Friday, 30 March 2007

As Old As My Tongue...

It is my birthday today. How old am I? Well, I suppose a lady should never reveal her true age, so let’s just say early twenties.

When I was small, I was fascinated with the age of my grandparents. When asked how old she was, Grandma, without fail, would say “I’m as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth”. That would leave me puzzled for days. I wonder whether Grandma ever noticed me staring in bewilderment at her mouth, trying to find clues.

Another ritual I had when I was small, as well as asking annoying questions of my elders, was visiting Newby Hall. There is a miniature train there which I loved. Some of my first memories are of the sound of the train changing in tone as it crossed over the brook and compelling, in fact generally blackmailing, my parents to let me stay on for ‘one more ride’.

So tomorrow, I am going to go to Newby Hall to ride again! One way of justifying my childish desire to go on the train again, that I think it will be interesting to do some background research for the second book in Hamish's planned series, has occurred to me.
Two weeks ago, Newby Hall was the backdrop for the BBC drama, Mansfield Park. I am going to find out whether visitor numbers or enquiries have been noticeably affected by the programme, as it was superb product placement. I'll be surprised if there has not been a positive effect, so it could be a nice anecdote for the book.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Faustian Pact

Or viewed in another light, did Matt sell his soul?

A Digital Fairy Tale

Let me tell you a story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away, a boy called Matt sat talking amongst friends. It was his last night with them before heading off into the world. He was apprehensive but excited, anticipating the dragons he would have to fight and the fair damsels he would rescue.

His friends, ever innovative, suggested he send them videos rather than postcards, to record his adventures. Matt thought this was a good idea, but had one reservation – what would he video? His friends exclaimed “Why, you in exotic places, of course!”
“But I’ll look silly, just stood in a strange place in a video,” replied Matt.
“Then do a dance,” counteracted his friends.
Matt thought about this and decided it was a good idea. And thenceforth, wherever he went, Matt sent his friends video clips of his dances from the north, the west, the south and the east.

The gentlemen at Stride gum happened upon these videos one day whilst browsing YouTube. “There is a man who engenders our brand values,” they said to themselves. They offered Matt a devilishly good deal - continuing his travels while they paid. In return, they asked just to associate their brand with the spirit of adventure and innovation that Matt stood for.

And they all lived happily ever after...

Monday, 26 March 2007

Flaubert's French Roast

Flaubert once said that anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough. I imagine that was the insight a weary ad man was clinging to, as he suggested putting adverts on Costa Coffee tables.

Friday, 23 March 2007

24 Hours With...

One of the most intriguing sections of Campaign for me is ‘24 Hours With…’. You could put this down to natural curiosity, nosiness or just plain voyeurism. As it is unlikely I will have the honour of being invited to contribute to that column in the near future, adapting it here seems like an interesting, if slightly self indulgent, experiment. So here I go:

Name: That would be telling…
Job: Marketing and Research
Professional mission: To be a name, but not a face
Personal Mantra: To be interesting

7.20am Leap out of bed...[really]
7.30am Wish I had more clothes.
7.45am Select tube reading material.
8.00am Lock house and sprint to bus stop.
8.10am Bus late, forehead wrinkles deepening visably.
8.20am The joy of the central line fills my soul.
9.00am Arrive at a beautiful building, check emails, wake up.
10.00am Meeting with Hamish and Peter about the book. Feel dynamic and motivated.
12.00pm Glued to Google in the name of research.
1.00pm Lunch and a walk around Hyde Park in search of fresh air - I don’t find any.
3.00pm Minutes. Shoot me now.
4.00pm Try to think of some interesting ideas. Varied success.
4.30pm Interview eminent Tesco person with Peter for Hamish’s book. One of the best bits of my job. Fascinating.
7.30pm Arrive home, perverse bin men have left the bin on our flowers…again. More wrinkles.
11.00am Bedtime.

I'm beginning to doubt whether my personal mantra is appropriate…!

Monday, 19 March 2007

Rare Creature

I am a rare creature, a former state school pupil who studied Latin. I should probably have done something more sensible and, dare I say it, useful, like German. However, the romance, the brutality and the logic of Latin appealed to me (read into that what you will!).

Natalie Haynes expressed the appeal of Classics beautifully in The Times this morning: “I ran straight into the welcoming folds of A-level Latin and Greek, where I was reasonably certain to be reading about people killing their mothers (Electra), embarking on an elephantine alpine excursion (Livy XXI) or committing big, messy suicide (all classical literature).”

One beautiful day in early spring, in a little town of no consequence except to those fortunate enough to have lived in it, we began translating Orpheus and Eurydice. To this day, the description of Hades and the Underworld fills my head as I trot down the steps into the tube. “Then Orpheus held a torch as he entered a pitch-black region where horrible sounds echoed through a cavernous landscape, and buried ghosts and phantom dwellers floated by.” One question that occupies my thoughts as I stand, phantom-like, in the train is whether there were any advertisements for hair loss treatments in the Underworld? Ixion’s Wheel strikes me as prime advertising space.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Media Week

I read in Media Week recently that they were going to offer Hamish’s next book as a prize to someone. Cue a wry smile from myself. I suspect they will have to wait a while yet…

Monday, 12 March 2007

Spot the Product Placement

I went to see ‘Freedom Writers’ a few nights ago and I really enjoyed it, being something of a sucker for those 'inspirational teacher' films. I was also at BAFTA, which I am sure enhanced my viewing experience - no popcorn fights there!

However, I couldn't help but notice the cunning Borders product placement in it, although it certainly wasn't as crass as in Casino Royale . Everytime the camera panned a car park full of Fords, I could barely contain a groan - much to the irritation of my friends (who I had already put through the 'guess the ad' game).

Despite this, I would not want to give the impression I'm not in favour of product placement or advertisier funded programming, quite the opposite in fact. However, I am also a firm believer in subtlety and respect; qualities I think will have an uneasy relationship with product placement in the future.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Thinkbox Conference

At the Thinkbox conference, the inevitable happened – they showed Sony Balls.

I remembered the time I first saw Balls. The whole bar was silent. It was eerie. I also know the only advert recently that has shut my entire household up – myself, Boyfriend, housemate, dead plants and ball of dust in the corner we never quite get rid of – was the new VW Golf advert ‘The Great Pretender’.

We all turned to each other afterwards and said ‘wow!’. Having spent my first few weeks in this job chained to the IPA Effectiveness case studies, I have had lots of time to think about what makes good advertisements. In my house, it appears to be the power to silence. I wonder whether there is a formula for that?!

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

North of Pizza Hut

I have just had to send a parcel to Costa Rica. The address was very strange. ‘Norte de Pizza Hut’. Spanish is not a language I have learnt, but I suspected that meant ‘north of Pizza Hut’. What a ridiculous address! However, just as I was preparing to mock this to various colleagues, I stopped.

I had a vivid recollection of me, having just moved to the big, bad city, missing the exit for sunny Stratford on the A12 for about the tenth time. Boyfriend was rapidly losing patience with my general driving incompetence. Holding back the tears, I shouted, “there are no landmarks! The whole bloody place looks the same…!’ To which, Boyfriend calmly pointed out a massive McDonald's, stating that that was a perfectly good landmark. I curled my lip.

The next time I was tootling along the A12 in my Renault Clio with a disconcerting creak, I spotted the golden arches and got off the A12 without batting an eyelid. Boyfriend sensibly kept quiet.

So who am I to ridicule an address ‘north of Pizza Hut’? As I am never going to be able to afford to live ‘just north of Buckingham Palace’, perhaps I just have to settle for ‘right at the massive McDonalds in Bow’ as my landmark…but at least it is not part of my address…!

Monday, 5 March 2007

My entry into the blogosphere

Musing about how, or indeed why, my entry into the blogosphere should begin has not been very successful. Usually an accomplished and focused thinker [perhaps that should read daydreamer?!], of late, I just have not been able to concentrate on it. Actually, I’m a little unsettled.

The lovely Jossy, with whom I have worked for a year, has left. She has moved to an agency, the excellent Profero to be precise. I hope she’ll be very happy there, but when I look around at my empty room and spare desk in it, I can’t help but feel a little abandoned. However, I am sure the feeling will pass! In the meantime, I have decided to start this blog to replace the banter; fill the silence a little.