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Monday, 10 October 2011

“Skidding about helplessly on the slippery surface of irrelevant creative brilliance” – David Ogilvy

A few weeks ago I was invited to a grand dinner in New York to mark the centenary of David Ogilvy’s birth. I was in New York just before it took place, but had to fly back to London on the day. A shame.

Anyhow, the remark above is one of the great man’s more entertaining ones, though I am about to describe things that could never be called brilliant or creative – just irrelevant and wasteful. And whence did they originate? From banks and advertising agents, of course.

My eyes popped out like chapel hat pegs when I saw a full colour double page adwank in The Week, paid for by Credit Suisse – or rather their clients. It features the boss of Lindt chocolates grinning like a hyena behind a drink (and looking as though he’s had nine or ten) with a giant chocolate bear next to him.

How the hell they got him to make such a fool of himself is a mystery. Vanity, I guess. Beneath the picture it says “Lindt CEO ERNST Tanner salutes another year of growth. Credit Suisse has helped raise his company’s standing.”

This is, of course, 100% pure gold-plated, diamond-studded, 24 carat bollocks, straight off the top shelf.

How does your choice of bank affect your standing? You just hope the bastards won’t lose a few billion by not looking at what their staff are up to. Anyhow, after the UBS catastrophe you would think that even allowing for the total ignorance of marketing displayed by almost all banks, a Swiss one would be smart enough not to piss away people’s hard-earned francs on such boastful tosh.

But no: they have other ads in the series, with a complete website devoted to explaining the amount of Tanner’s time and his clients’ money squandered on this exercise in corporate masturbation. If I were a Credit Suisse client I would be asking questions like, “How much is old Ernst taking home each year?” Possibly followed up by “If he wants to jerk off in public I hope this was done on his time, not ours.”

At least that ad is beautifully laid out, though.

Another for Saxo Bank in a Money Week supplement devoted to financial gambling – er, online trading - is just as stupid, but hideous, too. The headline is “ONE GOAL MULTIPLE WAYS TO ACHIEVE IT and it shows two men wearing rubber suits sloshing through some water. One is a Triathlon champion, and good for him.

Under this absurd picture it says THE MULTI ASSET PLATFORM, FOR THE ACTIVE TRADER (why the comma?) then some direly pretentious copy, fortunately reversed out to make it hard to read.

Great Gods and Little Fishes! Doesn’t anyone in these firms or their agencies know even 1% of what advertising is for, what works and what doesn’t? Have none of them studied, even for a spare five minutes, the thing they get so grossly overpaid for?

Boastful piffle does you no more good in advertising than in real life; pictures of runners do not make you think about making money. Actually if they’re wearing shiny rubber suits and you’re inclined that way they may even make you think about sex.

Incidentally, I would have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth if my Grandfather hadn’t lost all his money betting on Cotton Futures in 1920 – but that’s another subject.

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