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Monday, 19 November 2007

Outrage? Unfair? Rubbish!

On Friday one of the gossip-riddled rags that purports to be a newspaper in London ran a story complaining bitterly about a poster campaign for Eurostar. They think it represents English football fans in the wrong light.

You can see the poster at the top. A typical English football suppporter pissing in a cup of tea - with two others, featuring rather poor look-alikes of Hitchcock, Major, Thatcher and Bliar. I'm sorry the pictures are a bit crap; they're taken on my mobile, and I have no photographic skill anyhow.

Anyhow, the posters were all on giant cubes and each had something going on round the corner, for reasons I will now explain.

If you don’t speak French or Flemish, the copy says London is just round the corner, plus how long it takes to get there by the fast new Eurostar train. I think this is an excellent campaign as it makes the point in a surprising and relevant way.

What’s more, it’s in a good place – the Gare Du Midi – where you have plenty of time to see it. That’s because this quintessentially modern railway station is one of the worst signposted in the world. You can spend 20 minutes just looking for a toilet –and I did. In fact one of the security guys told me “This station can drive you mad.” The architect probably won an award for it.

If you compare this campaign with the one running in London, it is an instructive and striking demonstration of the difference between good and bad advertising.

Good advertising talks about benefits. Bad advertising talks about features.

The London campaign squanders full pages on the stunningly dull line “Hello to 186 m.p.h.” and even more ill-advised double page spreads showing pictures of St.Pancras Station. Features of the service, not benefits.

I heartily congratulate the agency responsible on conning a gullible, spendthrift client into pissing away all that cash to tell people about something they have all seen on TV and in the press ad nauseam – and my hearty commiserations to the shareholders.

But let’s get back to pissing away.

This is not a perfect poster - it aims to satisfy the ego of the people who created it - but it’s still pretty good, and here’s why

There is one really famous thing in Brussels. It is called the Mannequin Pisse - a statue of a little boy doing just that. There is also one famous thing about England. We drink a lot of tea. And there is one really famous thing about English football fans. Too many are violent, drunken thugs.

Now where do you think our brave boys have demonstrated these qualities most memorably? Why, in Brussels a few years ago during a match between Liverpool and Juventus, when quite a few people died.

And if the cap fits, wear it.

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