British Business Boneheadedness
I gave up and tossed the book and press release into a carton destined for a donation to Philadelphia’s Book Trader—a used bookstore.
Several weeks later, I received the same package, this time containing a book titled “Hittite Warrior.” And last week, a third carton arrived, this time with a book titled “Thermopylae 480 BC: Last stand of 300.”
Coming out of (1) book publicity and (2) direct marketing, I am a nut on efficiency and ROI—Return on Investment. And just as Eurostar’s signature image was a skinhead pissing in a teacup, here was Osprey/Random House pissing away money.
The message here is that British marketers expect you to work.
British ads frequently feature puns, puzzles and/or puerile images (as in the Eurostar peeing poster boy on billboards throughout Belgium) and all of us on the receiving end are expected to connect the dots. Their message is loud and clear: if you don’t “get” what we are up to, we are smart and you are a dunce.
These smartypants creatives are talking to themselves, rather than to their customers and prospects.
Billboards Impossible to Read
One typical example of British boneheadedness in marketing is found in the London Underground, the subway system where the trains run a hundred or more feet under the surface. Along the walls beside the escalators are small, framed theater posters, roughly the size of a piece of American stationery.
At the speed these escalators are moving, it is impossible to read these little billboards. Sometimes the name of the show is big enough to grasp, but all the rest of the copy—the actors, the theater, etc.—whiz by. I am made to feel stupid, because I don’t “get it.” If this is an “awareness” effort, I am aware that these people are money wasters and idiots.