What's in store in 2012? Odd language leads to pretty useless advice - and my touchingly generous offer expires today
Posted by Drayton Bird at 12:38
Posted by Drayton Bird at 19:06
Posted by Drayton Bird at 15:00
As all but the blind and stupid know, the news is increasingly brought to us by glamorous lady newsreaders.
The reason may lie in research I saw 40 odd years ago into what attracts the eye. This may well help you in your marketing, by the way.
Men look more at women than at men, and women look more at women than men, but they look at babies even more.
This may explain a few relationship mysteries to us males, but that is not my purpose here. Go and check out http://dotsub.com/view/01ad2718-073c-474a-ac40-c7a72e199d55. It will explain one reason why most people in this country (and I suspect many others too) are not keen on the joys of the European community.
Another is that 45% of the community's money goes to subsidising two groups. First, rich farmers who don't need the money. Second, poor farmers who need the money because they are not very efficient ... and get it because they are large in number, many are in France and Germany, and they all vote.
After that, a far better European joke.
Some years ago a small rural town in Spain twinned with a similar town in Greece.
The mayor of the Greek town visited the Spanish town.
When he saw the palatial mansion belonging to the Spanish mayor he wondered how he could afford it.
The Spaniard said "You see that bridge over there? The EU gave us a grant to build a two-lane bridge, but by building a single lane bridge with traffic lights at either end this house could be built".
The following year the Spaniard visited the Greek town. He was simply amazed at the Greek Mayor's house - gold taps, marble floors - the lot.
When he asked how this could be afforded the Greek said; "You see that bridge over there?"
The Spaniard replied "No."
And finally, a Swiss-Welsh joke.
There is great stress placed on retaining the ancient language of Wales, which I applaud.
It does give rise to oddities, though, as they have made up words for things that didn't exist 700 years ago - e.g. toilet is toiled, or ty bach, and paper is papur.
Anyhow, after that boring stuff you don't really need to know, I was entertained to receive the other day this message: Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.
My Welsh is not what it was - I went to school in Wales, but only learnt rude words - but this means Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Why the sender, who works for a Swiss firm, imagines all his readers speak Welsh, I have no idea, but I would like to pass that message on to all readers in their respective languages - even my resident hissy old queen, Shannon O'Hara.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 10:47
While you were out celebrating, the fires of liberty were being extinguished, no doubt on the principle of "yes we can".
The U.S. Congress, abetted by Obama, has passed a Bill that means you can be arrested, thrown in jail, "questioned" for any reason or no reason at all. You don't have to be charged with anything. Don't waste time asking for your lawyer - or anyone else. They don't have to allow it, any more than they need read you your rights or provide any evidence.
And I might add that they also feel they have the right to do much the same thing anywhere in the world - to you or me. All this brings to mind nothing so much as the Spanish Inquisition, Stalin's Purges and Hitler's Germany.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 10:03
After Cameron's little squabble in Europe Mr. Clegg stamped his feet and said "We risk being a pigmy on the world stage".
What an EXCELLENT prospect. I love the idea of being a pigmy nation - like Switzerland or Norway. Sarkozy, being a genuine pigmy, naturally feels the other way round.
Mr. Clegg seems to have an almost unnatural desire to grab hold of the wrong end of the stick and beat everyone up with it.
Offhand the only sensible idea I can recall from this government is to restore tax breaks to people who marry. Clegg says it is a bad idea to “preserve the 1950’s marriage in aspic”.
As anyone with eyes to see and brains to use knows, one of our biggest nightmares today is teenage delinquency. And as we all (save Mr. Clegg and a few PC crackpots) also know,oceans of research and statistics show that children whose parents stay together are, on average, happier, less at risk and do better in life than the reverse.
One of my own greatest regrets is that my first marriage broke up. God save us from posturing fools after short term advantage at our families' expense.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 09:20
I read what follows this morning, so I have no idea whether it has come about.
However, I do know that years ago Tony "I gave Gadhafi a big wet kiss" the Bliar's flabby excuse for a government allowed the U.S. to whisk our citizens away and stick them in jail without trial or proof.
Memories are short, so you may not recall that this was part of Bambi Blair's campaign to insinuate his tongue as far up George W. Bush's arse as far as it could go. Anyhow, what goes around comes around, and it seems a Bill has come before the U. S. Senate that defines the whole of the United States as a ‘battlefield’ and allows the US Military to arrest American citizens in their own backyard without charge or trial.
“The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president — and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. The power is so broad that even US citizens could be swept up by the military, and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself,” writes Chris Anders of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.
Under the ‘worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial’ provision of S.1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which is set to be up for a vote on the Senate floor this week, the legislation will ‘basically, say in law, for the first time, that the homeland is part of the battlefield,’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who supports the bill.
The bill was drafted in secret by Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) before being passed in a closed-door committee meeting without any kind of hearing. The language appears in sections 1031 and 1032 of the NDAA bill.
“I would also point out that these provisions raise serious questions as to who we are as a society and what our Constitution seeks to protect,” Colorado Sen. Mark Udall said in a speech last week. ‘One section of these provisions, section 1031, would be interpreted as allowing the military to capture and indefinitely detain American citizens on US soil. Section 1031, essentially, repeals the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 by authorizing the US military to perform law enforcement functions on American soil. That alone should alarm my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but there are other problems with these provisions that must be resolved.’
This means Americans could be declared domestic terrorists and thrown in a military brig with no recourse whatsoever. Given that the Department of Homeland Security has characterized behavior such as buying gold, owning guns, using a watch or binoculars, donating to charity, using the telephone or email to find information, using cash and all manner of mundane behaviors as potential indicators of domestic terrorism, such a provision would be wide open to abuse.
“American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely, without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?” asks Anders.
That report is taken from The Daily Reckoning. What follows is taken from the Bird postbag.
I have commented before on the rank stupidity of Dell's marketing, which is almost entirely based on discounting, a pretty good way to tell buyers your stuff isn't good enough to sell on its merits.
They do also have some copy, though. For instance, in an insert with my copy of The Week: "Give the gifts you wish you could hold on to."
When writing or reviewing copy it is wise to ask yourself questions like what the hell it means, and does it make any kind of sense. Do you hug your little computer to your chest? Are you worried that you might drop it down the toilet? Are you getting paid to write lines like that? Really? Why?
Another line in this insert is “Give the gifts they’ll love to open”. Why not “I saw Mummy kissing my Dell computer”?
I watched a programme about Steve Jobs last night, presented by that man who looks like Gollum in the Lord of the Rings. I can just imagine what Jobs would have said about such rubbish.
Anyhow, the other thing interesting about Dell's leaflet is that they have one in every issue of The Week - but with no way I could see of properly measuring the results. Dumb.
Incidentally, I see this blog is being regularly reported in Facebook as abusive. What took so long?
Posted by Drayton Bird at 09:04
Yesterday I was on about the floppy-haired wunderkind J. P.Maroney.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 05:00
Posted by Drayton Bird at 08:23
In New York the sun was shining. In Bristol it was pissing down. And in my flat it was going plonk, plonk, plonk into assorted buckets, bowls and pans.
Only the plants, which needed watering, have escaped.
Meanwhile in a website called London Loves Business it was raining jargon and cliché in the form of an ad from Harrow Council.
With the exception of property ads, recruitment advertising must surely be the worst.
But seriously, could anyone cram much more pretentious bosh into one small space than what follows? And what kind of person will apply? Someone who loves children? Or someone who talks bilge?
Here is the headline to the ad.
LSCB Senior Professional
Gripping, isn't it? It caught my eye because I had no idea what LSCB is. Nor, I bet do you.
More to the point, I suspect that anyone who does is probably divorced from the rest of humanity.
But if the headline was bad, just wait till you read the rest of the complacent self-praising disgraceful guff that follows
Support the groundbreaking new integrated Children’s Service in Harrow through innovative partnership working for the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB).
Play your part in a new model
In early 2012, we will launch a brand new operating model for Children’s Services – a radical transformation driven by a complete system re-design. This will be a seamless, fully integrated multi-agency service with one point of contact and a true team around the family. Our visionary approach is based on the firm foundations of evidence, best practice and extensive consultation.
Residents, partners and employees have informed the model’s development every step of the way. Joining us now will give you an important say in the detail and the development of service delivery as we continue on an ambitious journey to become the country’s best performing Children’s Service.
We are looking for an experienced safeguarding professional to work within the Quality Assurance and Service Improvement service to ensure efficient operation of LSCB and sub groups. You will have a key role in ensuring the efficient operation of LSCB meetings, sub groups and time limited task groups.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 12:57
A few people take the trouble to write to me and comment or suggest things, which I do appreciate.
Today my main challenge is to make a chili to poison the guests at my son Phil and his wife Megan's annual Christmas bash, but Robert Currey wrote to me about a (very good) blog by photographer Trey Ratcliff and asked what I thought.
Trey decided to measure the performance of his advertising in magazines - a blindingly obvious idea ignored by the fools in big firms who think marketing means just spraying money around at random with no regard to the results.
He concluded that print is now a waste of time. and we should throw everything on-line. Robert asked me if I agree. Here are some thoughts for you.
1. In the days back when I compared the ROI on advertising in trade mags with direct mail a couple of times. Direct mail did four times better. One reason, I think, is that most trade mags are tripe.
2. However, most advertising in mags is as bad as the editorial, so good ads work, as they shine out like good deeds in a naughty world.
3. Most people who use the internet haven't a clue and can't be bothered to study. It is NOT easy to understand. The water is muddied by thieving rogues who tell you all you need is either a) traffic b) good traffic c) be at the top of the Google rankings d) "my secret super launch formula" - that's made me a fortune out of mugs like you.
4. You must attract the right people - thousands of them; you must get them to give their details; you must follow them up with an endless series of messages - on auto-responder and otherwise - that are interesting, relevant and helpful enough to make them buy eventually. You must use all available channels (this one for example). A whole lot easier said than done when so few people can think clearly, write well, or even take the trouble to bloody count.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 13:45
By the time you read this I'll be winging my way across the Atlantic to sighs of relief here in the U.K. and moans of apprehension in the New York area.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 21:03
Posted by Drayton Bird at 14:56
A weasel, as all good copywriters know, is a word or expression that gives you a misleading impression of something, usually good, without actually lying.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 07:12
I'll tell about the picture in a minute as it may interest you.
But first, I am often amused by the way, at regular intervals, people tell you everything has changed, customers are getting smarter etc., etc.
Only this morning I read that a business expert, referring to the internet, and the great social media yawn-a-thon thinks “In this new world, we are more and more dependent on word-of-mouth.”
Sorry. It's all balls.
I regularly quote research conducted for Buick about 7 years ago which asked people what governed their choice of a new car. The chief reason given was word of mouth. (TV advertising, on which Buick were pissing away most of their money was given as least important, and boring old direct mail from dealers came second after word of mouth).
I will happily wager that word of mouth always has been and always will be the chief single reason why people buy things - or do things, for that matter. The internet just allows more people to sound off than ever before, and since most of what they say is rubbish, I'm not sure how much it helps.
I would imagine people are, if possible, getting more stupid, too.
Back in the '60's fashionable educational theory proposed that nobody should be allowed to fail. The real result has been that educational standards have been lowered to such a degree that in reality almost everyone does. This is not helped by the fact that governments fiddle things to make them look better than they are.
A big thing worth remembering about people was well put about 400 years by Sir Francis Bacon in one of his essays: "Men behave as they are accustomed". Our own marketing hero John Caples said "Times change. People don't"
Posted by Drayton Bird at 08:15
In my talks about copy I always suggest three pretty steadfast rules:
1, What you offer matters far more than what you say.
2. What you say matters far more than how you say it.
2. The headline matters far more than any other part of the copy.
What perhaps I fail to stress enough is that it helps if you can write English - and if you write badly enough you can unsell something
I was quite taken by the offer from Groupon this morning headed Overnight Break For Two in the Forest of Dean With Breakfast and Cream Tea for £63 at The Speech House Hotel (Up to 60% Off).
We don't live that far away from the hotel and the picture looked OK. What's more I'm as cheap as chips and a pig for cream tea.
But then, oh dear! the copy went into semi-literate orbit, in some weird copywriter's baroque - as follows:
While they make a lovely country getaway, some thickly wooded areas can be unexplainably prejudiced against numbers, earning them a reputation for being fourist. Stay indiscriminate with today’s Groupon: £63 for an overnight break in the Forest of Dean for two, including breakfast and a cream tea each at the Speech House Hotel.
I think "fourist" gets the Golden Turd Award, don't you? But there was more: a picture of the hotel, followed by:
Cuddled by a 27,000 acre forested duvet, The Speech House Hotel is a 17th century hunting lodge that oozes rustic charm fused with all the desirable facilities required to appease contemporary travellers. The auberge is well placed to offer an array of outdoorsy activities designed to leave guests well prepped for comfy beds and a view of Gloucestershire’s foliage. With food options including two restaurants and the casual orangery, the massive house treats wilderness wanderers to 21st century mini-breaking.
Will somebody please shoot that writer before he or she does any more damage?
Or, to quote W. S. Churchill: "Use simple words everyone knows, then everyone will understand."
Do you want to be cuddled by a forest? Do you yearn to be indiscriminate? Come to think of it, I wonder if whoever wrote that is a native English speaker. Hard to believe, isn't it? It reads as though written by someone from Transylvania.
If you want to persuade people, you'd better understand them.
So here's a tip: read the correspondence.
Many years ago I wrote copy for a pain reliever called Cephos. The fact that people used put it in warm water to sooth their aching feet told you a lot about what they were like. We used strip cartoons in the advertising.
When I was working on American Express I was impressed by the fact that the top people - in the U.K., anyhow - used to listen in on customer calls.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 09:54
Over here we have a man called Moyle (or Moyles - can't remember which) who gets paid far too much for blathering away in the morning on BBC radio.
His chief characteristics appear to be homophobia, anti-semitism, an ability to sink lower than even the lowest dregs among his audience and being employed by the BBC, whose desire to appeal to the moronic millions knows no bounds. Since none of the BBC bosses does what they are supposed to he has never been fired.
I often wonder if the people who run things at Broadcasting House ever stop to consider the difference between quantity and quality, and that getting an audience of millions of half-wits is not what good broadcasting is about and doesn't reflect their charter in the least.
You can plough through that charter if you like, though I don't recommend it as it is 48 pages of turgid stuff with many misprints clearly designed to discourage scrutiny, but the only bit that matters says the BBC should be:
(a) sustaining citizenship and civil society;
(b) promoting education and learning;
(c) stimulating creativity and cultural excellence;
(d) representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities.
I didn't make that up. That really is what they are required to do by Royal Proclamation, and they only do maybe half those things. More to the point it says a lot about the people who run this country that none of them, not one, seems to have asked anyone, anyone at all, at the BBC why they don't do their jobs. If I had a copywriter who didn't write or only wrote half time I would fire him or her. Why should they be different?
In fact every one of the top BBC apparatchiks deserves to be picked up and thrown violently on to the pavement at Great Portland Street without a pension for:
a) not even attempting to do the job they are required to do, with such clear instructions;
b) wasting too much of our money on people who have nothing to with broadcasting and paying them more than the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world an oaf called Kyle Sandiland on 2DayFM in Sydney has sounded off on air at some poor woman who didn't like his show with this barrage of fourth form wit:
“Some fat slag has already branded us a disaster … What a fat bitter thing you are, you deputy editor of an online thing. You’ve got a nothing job anyway. You’re a piece of shit … You are supposed to be impartial, you little troll … Yeah, and your blouse, you haven’t got that much titty to be wearing that low cut a blouse. Watch your mouth, girl, or I will hunt you down.”
Rare command of language amidst the megalomania - but it's got him in trouble with his sponsors who are all deserting him. The reason that made me laugh most was from Holden, who were Australia's biggest car manufacturer until Toyota came along and cheated by making cars that cost less and were more reliable.
They said they think the show is "no longer in line with Holden's core values." Ah! Dear old core values, second cousin to key issues and beloved of Chief Marketing Officers everywhere.
Incidentally, the show the lady criticised, which was on TV, started out with 1.4 million viewers - because it followed an episode of the X Factor - of whom 1.2 million had switched off by the time it ended. God, it must have been bad.
More to the point, he just may have betrayed 2DayFM's core values, which are to make as much money as possible in any way not actually criminal and never upset the advertisers.
I should say, by the way, that I find Australian talk radio utterly fascinating and have done ever since I first visited in 1971. It's amazingly outspoken and often extremely funny. Compared to the pallid stuff we get here for the most part it is far, far better.
That applies to Australian language generally, which reflects the national character and is tons more vigorous than what we trot out over here. But that's another subject.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 05:44
Posted by Drayton Bird at 14:09
I'll get to the bit all about Me, glorious Me in a minute, but the chief reason why I have to bray so loudly is because of what successive governments have done to me and lot of old codgers like me.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 20:29
I took the picture outside Bristol Cathedral, which I walk past pretty much every every day.
They show the camp set up by the people who are protesting against the excesses of capitalism – something I too feel pretty strongly about. They have stated that they want to create a slum there, and are doing a pretty good job.
When young, I used to protest against things like the atom bomb – I was lucky not to get arrested.
We used to march and hand in petitions to parliament. We couldn’t go and camp out because most of us worked for a living, but sadly the jobs many of these people would have if they could be bothered were stolen by Poles and other foreigners who are willing to work hard.
I am not sure a slum is the answer, but it can be very uncomfortable. At 10. 50 last night on my way back from work I saw one industrious slum-builder riding a bike up Whiteladies Road, no doubt going home. He was wearing a jaunty top-hat with a feather in it, looking like a character from Barnaby Rudge.
The tactics of these people remind me of a story about the great Labour Leader Ernest Bevin. In the 1940’s, as now, many Labour politicians loathed each other, and on being told that Ernest Morrison was his own worst enemy, Bevin replied “Not while I'm alive 'e ain't.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 17:08
Someone clever once observed that if the tray tables on your aircraft aren’t clean you start to wonder how well they look after the engines.
In much the same way, I wonder about people promising miracles who can’t write decent English. This applies to a lot of the stuff I get which is written in what I call folksy-bollocks-language. But nothing beats the email I got this morning headed Women gives Money Luck....., You will Like This...!
I don’t actually want to get pregnant right now, but I am put off by an incoherent heading followed by PLEASE, NOT ANOTHER pregnancy GIMMICK!
This is especially true if it's immediately followed by, well, another pregnancy gimmick:
Now, I know many of you are saying, "Oh no, not another 'get pregnant in 7 days' program". To be totally honest, I thought the same thing. Rest assured, this is not the case. It is not a quick fix, or gimmick. Its 250+ pages of solid, clinically proven holistic information for getting pregnant. She starts from square one and teaches you everything you need to know. Doesn't matter what type of infertility you have and regardless of your age or lifestyle, you WILL learn something from this book.
The testimonial is priceless and reads: Dear Friends,
I found this information which of no use to me as a man, but I know by spreading this information
I can help other people's life. I believe in doing good deeds will bring back good karma to me,
abundance of wealth and happiness. We never knew with whose prayer we get success and abundance of wealth. Just keep doing good things in life, you will definately get abundance of wealth.
just Clik here, you will know what to do...,
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? How did the word holistic, beloved of phoneys everywhere, creep into this salvo of ignorance? But this may work for two reasons. 1. For every illiterate, demented and crooked promoter there is a horde of illiterate and desperate prospects, growing fast because of our broken-down educational system. 2. The words “money” and “luck” always attract readers.
This may also be true of the word “legend”. When I was 12 I read a book called Myths and Legends of Ancient Babylon and Assyria, written by the archaeologist J. M Breasted. Bloody boring, actually, but I was (and am) a history nut. Today there are more myths and legends than ever were in ancient Mesopotamia, especially in sales and marketing – and I see another has emerged in the shape of “Sales Training Legend Stan Billue”.
I have to declare an interest here, mind. People regularly call me legendary, to the point that occasionally I wake up and breathe on a mirror to see if I really exist. One person who does exist and is as legendary as they come is Jeff Walker who is busy promoting a re-packaged version of his Product Launch formula, with added bells and whistles on social marketing (surprise!) and the help of his many “good friends”.
A good friend, if you don’t know, isn't really a good friend. Did you know that? It is someone who hopes to make money by flogging your latest money-making scheme as an affiliate. A formula, if you don’t know, is something vastly overpriced that you fondly hope will spare you the pain of hard work and hard thinking. It won’t.
I'm not saying all these formulae are complete moonshine. They do work, for a precious few and up to a point. This one is really an elaboration of the system used by Hollywood for the last 80 years. You will learn far more from the way it is promoted than anything else.
What none of these people – not even the most celebrated – has ever done is work on proper businesses - big brands in the big wide world. Some are just dishonest. The best-known in this country was caught lying by the Advertising Standards Authority.
I wonder why nobody notices this. There really are a lot of mugs out there. That doesn't mean you have to join them.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 06:42
It is a slow day in the little Greek Village.
The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.
A rich German tourist, name of Merkel, is driving through the village, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner she wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.
The owner gives her some keys and, as soon as she has walked upstairs, grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.
The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer.
The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel.
The guy at the Farmers' Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the taverna. The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him "services" on credit.
The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note.
The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.
No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole village is now out of debt and looking to the future with renewed optimism. And that, gentle readers, is how the bailout package works.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 10:27
Did I ever tell you about the time I was asked to join a BBC committee all about the future?
Posted by Drayton Bird at 04:00