Trevor Beattie On Advertising

Trevor Beattie talks about the state of advertising in London. Here are some snippets:

Trends, of course, have always come and gone. Who can forget the forgettable spate of "saturated" post-production colour jobs of recent years? Or the equally lamentable folksy/hippie/San Fran sickly gee-tar strings of 2006...? But this is different. And it's inexplicably bonkers. Don't look now, but THERE'S STUFF FALLING OUT OF THE SKY. All sorts of bloody stuff. In every other bloody advert. Stuff falling out of the sky is the new folk music. Maybe it's a result of the incessant rain that's fallen out of our own wide grey yonder each and every grey day since the middle of May. Maybe it's just good old-fashioned copy-cataclysmic laziness. Either way, the reign of squally random stuff-showers shows no sign of abating.

It probably all began with the magnificent Sony "Balls" commercial. (If not the gold standard, then surely the golden shower by which all others must be judged). Soon afterwards came gallons of gloss paint. Not, as you might expect, from Dulux, but again, Sony. Then the heavens opened. Petals fell from Surf. Sycamore leaves from Powergen and glassware courtesy of Lloyds TSB Home Insurance. Smirnoff raised the bar by dumping everything from loose change and Lancaster bombers to battleships on our bonces, while Toyota dropped daggers. (Yes, knives! Ye gods.) Vodafone's broken watch parts rained like Datsun cogs, while T-Mobile, Trident Gum and Canon all went old school, raining men. Hallelujah? I think not.

On and on it poured, with Innocent smoothies emptying a sky full of fruit on us. Zurich bleedin' Insurance even belied their own dodgy endline ("change happenz") by falling into line and lobbing a random rogue satellite on to an innocent parked car. And bringing up the rear, The Sun's Sensational Soccer Supplement came full circle by dropping, well, balls. No change there, either. One swallow may not a summer make, but a dirty baker's dozen of eerily similar TV stuff-showers is tantamount to climate change in my book.

Where will it all end? When might the nation expect a termination of this stuff-tumbling precipitation? Well, it may not over be yet, but I'm happy at least to report variation...

Recent commercials for both Ford and the RAF have set about reversing the trend. Literally. Yes, their skies are still ludicrously chock full of stuff, but at least it appears to be travelling upwards instead of down. It's a start. But until that gorgeous Irish girl who does the weather on Sky News tells you otherwise, I'd still suggest some sort of hat would be in order while watching TV adverts. You have been warned.

Advertising. There, I've said it. Advertising. Said it again. Advertising, advertising, advertising. Now I'm not suggesting that our industry is in some paranoid state of self-denial (oh yes I am), but my mentioning of the A-word in public right now would be seen by some as a professional faux pas on a par with me sashaying down Shaftesbury Avenue, swinging by the Stage Door of a leading West End theatre, pulling down my trousers and pants and shouting "Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!" till the ushers rushed to shush me up.

And I paraphrase on purpose to illustrate my point. Russell Brand is A Comedian. He does Comedy. Very brilliantly and in a very modern way. On TV. On digital radio. Via podcast. Comedy faces as many challenges as we do, in terms of finding its audience and delivering its message. It's had to evolve. Adapt. Change. But it's still called comedy. The best of it still makes us laugh. The worst gets booed off.

Is there any other industry which so readily and casually denies its own job description as much as ours? It's odd because we don't seem to deny the function. Everything we do is A*********g. Yet our relationship with the very word seems to have broken down. And it's not even the whole word. It's just the first two letters we have a problem with. 'Vertising, meantime, is alive and well and jumping into bed with a brand new prefix every day.

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