Category Archives: English advertising

Same shit, different accent.

I’m back from two weeks in Scotland and I’ve watched a good bit of British television waiting for the sun to set sometime after 11 PM so I could go to sleep. And that meant the chance to watch a lot of UK advertising.

I’m here to report that it’s fookin’ rubbish, as the Scots would say. Just as we Americans generally mistake an English accent for a sign of intelligence, we hear those same plummy tones in their spots and give terrible English advertising a free pass.

What’s remarkable is how the advertising in each category tends to suck more or less exactly as much as its counterpart in the States. Royal Bank of Scotland, which imploded more thoroughly than Citi or Wachovia and is now owned by the taxpayers, is running “real people” testimonials with the line “Here for you.” Sound familiar?

Jaguars and BMWs veer around hairpin turns in cool, desaturated, misty worlds devoid of oncoming vehicles to a trendy music track. Sound familiar?

An analgesic…can’t remember which one…was a cheesy problem/solution POS with a graphic demo showing the wonder ingredient rushing to “the site of the pain.”

Fairy Liquid (P&G’s UK version of Dawn) is doing a down-through-the-generations-mums-have-always-trusted-Fairy spot. Sepia to black and white to Kodachrome to today. Classic Procter twaddle.

Speaking of Procter & Gamble, they started this “If it works here, it’ll work there” business years ago. They even had a name for it: Search and Re-apply. Really. I know firsthand because I was always being asked to try the campaign that worked in Yemen or Uruguay or Chechnia back when I worked on P&G business.

And of course, depressingly, they were right, as they are about most things having to do with marketing. People are all the same. Blood pudding at breakfast instead of bacon doesn’t make for a different insight. It’s just a different part of the pig. The only reason for a global brand to do different advertising in each country is politics…keep the locals feeling empowered.

That’s why I want to laugh when I hear clients at focus groups in New Jersey (the world capital of focus groups) say that perhaps they should do more groups in Minneapolis or San Diego or wherever to get a more varied perspective.

Are you kidding? You can go to fookin’ Scotland an’ ye’ll hear the same bollocks, mate!