Integrated Marketing and The Endless Echoes of Mad Men

In case you hadn’t noticed, ‘integrated marketing’ has come full circle. Back in the day, when Mad Men roamed Madison Avenue and TV advertising was the new kid on the block, everyone wanted a slice of the marketing action. In late-1950s Britain, television sets in everyone’s living room marked the end of post-war austerity and, with it, the beginnings of an affluent consumerist society that continued throughout the 1960s and on into the present day. TV advertising was a powerful tool of mass communication that eclipsed print media, direct marketing and PR almost overnight, particularly among those with bigger budgets. It’s often said that history repeats itself. That would certainly seem to be the case with integrated marketing. To get a handle on the historical perspective of it all, you need to compare the Mad Men era and the arrival of TV advertising with the emergence in our own era of Internet marketing and Google. Both of these phenomena transformed marketing as it was known hitherto – and both ended with an aftermath of integrated marketing that sought to make sense of a new and dominant marketing force. The underlying driver on both occasions was the realisation that we shouldn’t risk throwing the baby out with the bath water.   In The 1960s… TV advertising in the 50s and 60s was a potent and entertaining medium with the power to engage and persuade like nothing that had gone before. Or was it? Apart from being incredibly expensive, TV advertising in 1960s Britain had a limited platform of only one commercial TV station. Even if your company could afford it,... Read more...

Travel Copywriting for All-inclusive Holidays

  Does anyone really care whether all-inclusive holidays come with a bag-full of issues?  Or is it simply the case that you either love ’em or hate ’em?  For copywriters who are involved with the marketing of ‘all-inclusives’, these are real challenges that mean you’re starting off on the wrong foot.  In short, the issues focus on the perception that these ‘sunshine centres’ are in some way down-market (even though most are in fantastic locations with amazing facilities). There is also the claim that all-inclusive holidays drain the local economy of much-needed tourist revenue (because everything ‘touristic’ goes on behind the tour operator’s closed doors). Again, this is debatable because hotels of every type – in every location – tend to be self-contained, with a range of services that will maximise their income.   Overcoming Misconceptions Given that certain people view all-inclusives with a jaundiced eye, how can copywriters overcome these points of prejudice? As with all copywriting projects, it’s important to ‘get under the skin’ of your prospects.  It is of course difficult when someone doesn’t like the idea of being part of a large group where they feel their individuality has been compromised in some way. It’s even more difficult when someone takes the snobbish view that they’re likely to be rubbing shoulders with the ‘wrong sort’ (similar to the way British holiday camps such as Butlin’s and Pontin’s were viewed in the post-war period). It’s clear that all-inclusives have their own set of marketing challenges to overcome.  A travel copywriter’s superlatives and honeyed USPs will fall some way short of the mark. In common with all... Read more...

Debt – The Silent Assassin

  “History is splattered with the broken dreams of debtors.  Debt kills hope, invites despair, anxiety and ongoing hardship.  Silently.”    The Victorians punished debt.  Today, debt is a way of life for millions.  It’s well hidden – but scratch the surface and see what you get… Debt isn’t always about greed, or naïveté – or even crass stupidity.  It can be about misfortune, ill health, bad luck, bad timing – call them ‘hard luck stories’ if you will. Debt shatters lives.  In the old days, harsh punishments were meted out, in part to humiliate, but also to deter others who may have had the temerity to dice with the dangers of LSD (pound, shillings and pence, that is). Debt Is Punishing Anyone who’s been in serious debt will know that the anxieties and animosities it generates are punishment enough in themselves.  In today’s world, loan sharks take no prisoners; payday loan companies (until the Financial Conduct Authority stepped in recently) added insult to injury by compounding the interest on small debts to unmanageable levels; whilst credit card companies and their ilk have an awesome array of legal options to make a ‘pinned-out rat’ of anyone who transgresses. In the old days, people like Oscar Wilde were thrown into debtors’ prison.  Others, for a variety of reasons, ended up in the workhouse, grim Victorian institutions that gave fulsome meaning to having to ‘sing for your supper’. Members of today’s ‘Benefit Street’ underclass don’t know they’re born.  State beneficence – misguided or not – ensures that the original ‘safety net’ of the ‘cradle-to-grave’ Welfare State and the post-war Bevan era... Read more...
Cameron's New Young Property People

Cameron's New Young Property People

This week’s Tory Party Conference will no doubt be dominated by Iraq.  Somewhere in the mix, however, we can expect to hear more about the vote-winning wheeze of seducing England’s first-time house buyers under the age of 40 with a scheme that knocks 20% off the market value of a home. The Tories’ pledge is to build 100,000 new homes on brownfield sites (and public sector land) over the course of the next parliament – a knee-jerk reaction, perhaps, to Ed Milliband’s earlier promise to build half a million homes by 2025! Whoever you believe, there’s no doubt that the housing shortage will become a political hot potato before next May’s General Election.  This is hardly surprising given the concerns at so many levels about the social and economic effects of unaffordable housing. Nowhere are the effects of this more evident than among the ‘boomerang generation’ of twenty-somethings who have been forced to live with their parents way beyond the age that most of us would find acceptable. As the house-price bubble continues to inflate, the age of this disenfranchised group is creeping inexorably upwards.  It’s not uncommon nowadays for young men and women in their 30s to be still living at home. Does Tinkering Work? We’ve already seen government step in to kick-start the housing market in the immediate post-recession era with its Help To Buy initiative.  This scheme will also be available to those who qualify for the new Tory deal. In important ways, fiscal tinkering of this order highlights the misguided thinking that’s been going on in government circles for long enough.  As Shadow Housing Minister... Read more...

Up Your Copywriting Rates – And Make Your Clients Happier!

Yes, I know…  At first glance, that headline is a paradox wrapped in an enigma.  And yet… when you focus on delivering value for money, copywriter and client alike can land a win-win deal.  Honest.   The term ‘copywriting rates’ is a misnomer in so far as it’s preferable to get away from the ‘price list’ approach to costing.  In the quest to provide ‘value’, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. So how does this work?  In simple terms, we all want someone to care about what they’re providing for us – and that applies to whether it’s a business transaction or a personal one. Here’s how the psychology works – and here’s the way to earn more money (whatever business you’re in!).  When you quote a price for a job – on a standalone ‘take it or leave it’ basis – there aren’t any reference points relating to quality or after-care.  ‘Price’ is all there is to go on.  The copywriter will certainly know that they are providing quality and value-for-money – but the client is left guessing.   Let’s Look At It This Way… By reassuring the client that they can expect a high quality, creative and commercially effective job borne of experience and a certain degree of ‘talent’, the price you’re quoting begins to seem more reasonable.  For a comparison, think Picasso.  The following tale may be apocryphal, but it’s been told often enough to have acquired a certain amount of credibility! When the great man dashed off a mini-masterpiece in a French café, and then added a huge price tag, the would-be customer complained... Read more...