At the End of the Day



Taking every opportunity, taking the maximum credit….but mainly, taking the piss


When I was in my Twenties and advertising was still largely peopled by those who liked having fun and using long-term campaign ideas to build brands and create employment, we the employees of genuinely creative ad agencies tended to parody the worst examples of advertising designed (it seemed to us) to treat the consumer as if he – and especially she – might be incurably moronic.

We were on a mission to engage our client’s customers by making them smile, being honest about our obvious bias, but conspiring with them to buy honest brands not empty promises. And one of the barn-sized targets of our ridicule was what we Brits call the strapline, Americans call the tagline, and real people call The Slogan.

One of my favourites at the time was ‘Delta Airlines: We’ll get you there’. It used to evoke in me a reaction of, “You fuckin’ sure as shit better do that Delta, or we’re all dead”. Another was a wonderful sign in Hong Kong that promised, ‘Ears pierced while you wait’. Yes, here I am for my ear-piercing….I’ll just drop them off with you and pick ’em later around 4 pm, OK?

Empty promises – ‘Nothing acts faster than Anadin’ so, um, take nothing – vied with incredibly patronising campaigns signed off with the ‘Oxo gives a meal man-appeal’ strap that kept marital victim Katie close to her dimwit fatty partner Philip over many years.

Here in France, there is the ambient food packaging claim that promises ‘Ouverture facile’ (‘Easy opening)  – a standing joke in that it’s easy to open if you have the muscles of Arnie Schwarzenegger and the fingernails of Howard Hughes.

Very sadly, Covid19 has brought forth a resurgence in the consumately mendacious corporate promise.

At the forefront of such drivel are, of course, the banks: ‘In this your hour of need, we’re by your side’ omitting to add, ‘…and if you fall behind on the ludicrous amount of money we stupidly lent you, rest assured we will do the best thing for society by foreclosing on you without warning. Caveat emptor et al.

Not far behind are the big supermarkets: ‘United we stand against the Virus wreaking havoc in our lives’ while failing to mention that food prices since Lockdown in France have exploded by 18%.

And of course, we must not forget the fashionistas: LVMH-owned brand Loewe has begun a series of digital events called Loewe En Casa, while Prada announced that it would launch a series of “digital talks” on Instagram aimed at “exploring culture, fashion, and life”. The mind boggles at where this might lead – ‘Loewe leather now rejects Vocid19 droplets after13.77 seconds’ – while the Prada marketeers may soon be claiming that ‘Foreign Devil running dog CIA Covid does not wear Prada’.

I don’t know who the poor buggers are these days who have to develop these tactical responses to quite the silliest global “emergency” in history, but I don’t envy them.

I wonder if – call me completely wacky here – there are many among their number with the cojones to say to their clients, “Keep this strapline bollocks to a minimum, and when the Truth comes out about what complete IABATO* Covid was, you’ll be ahead of the game”?

I have my doubts.

* IABATO – It’s All Bollocks And That’s Official