Adland’s most influenced, that’s me

14 Jan

Let that be a lesson to youI absolutely love advertising, which is fortunate, since I have spent a lot of time immersed in it since the late 1990s.  Some people accompany their memories with a life soundtrack, the dramatic accompaniment to their daily travails made easier to recall thanks to first the Walkman, then the Discman, and now of course the ultimate life soundtrack specifier, the iPod, where you can prepare playlists for every eventuality.  The ‘0722 is shortform – again’ playlist, for instance; the ‘off to the park to be nauseated by the roundabout’ playlist; even the ‘why did I forget the dried marjoram when it’s Wednesday and market day madness but I need it NOW so I’ll have to brave the lack of parking’ playlist – every opportunity really is stitched up here.

Now while I have a pretty good soundtrack running order accompanying stand-out memories (1985! At home, wishing I was older and more interesting! ‘The Sun Always Shines on TV’ by A-Ha! 1994! Vancouver! ‘Standing on the edge of the Hoover Dam’ by Sugar! 2004! Pregnant with L1 and in a state of complete denial! ‘Run’ by Snow Patrol! 2007! Pregnant with L2 and in even more denial! ‘Grace Kelly’ by Mika (obviously – what else?)! etc! etc!), it has struck me that most of my life and probably most of my motivation has been accompanied, dare I say dictated, by advertising. The first career path I expressed an interest in was to be part of the Advertising Standards Authority, just because I had a lot to say about advertising, full stop – and I could always remember those jingles or poster slogans. I have always taken my ad messages extremely seriously.

Here’s just three that have a Pavlov’s Dog-style effect on me, no matter how long ago it was when they first ‘acted on me’.

At the age of five, when I first (yes, I’ve done it more than once) fell down the gap between the train and the platform, sparking the love/hate relationship I have to this day with SouthEastern Rail (of course they weren’t SouthEastern then, in the heady 1980s, but right from that age it was can’t live with them can’t live without them), my lasting memory of that trauma was the ‘Fifteen Days on Yardos’ poster for a holiday company resplendent on the wall of the waiting room as I clawed my way up from halfway down the platform lip. Despite the modern wonder that is the internet, I have failed to find this poster, so either I dreamt it (possible) or I am misspelling Yardos. Five year old spelling memory is liable to be flawed, I would imagine. Whichever way, the bald blue man and the idea of a trip to Yardos have remained ingrained to this day, linked to the lurch as I missed the wooden step and plunged (partially) into the void below.

Then we move on to the Post Office. Instigated at the age when I was first seriously writing letters, ‘Pass on your postcode, you’re not properly addressed without it’ was a message clearly aimed directly at me. Yes, all those tens of thousands of pounds (probably what a full national all-adult TV campaign cost in those heady days) were obviously meant specifically for me. The campaign had such an effect on me that even now, probably at least a couple of decades later, the idea of not including a postcode on a letter is absolute anathema. I memorise postcodes; I find it physically repellent, nauseating, only to have the first three characters; an unpostcoded letter is naked in my eyes, and obscene; I am living proof of the Post Office’s ROI, YOU ARE NOT PROPERLY ADDRESSED WITHOUT IT. Remember that, if you remember nothing else, and help me carry the guilt of a misplaced digit sending a desperate missive to Bicester not Brighton. Heaven forfend.

And finally, the BA ad. ‘Da da da da da, da da daaaaa’, that one. Not the one where the plane taxis down your street. That’s a bit wrong, in my book – the sort of thing that I consistently expect to happen so on a daily basis am rather relieved that it hasn’t just yet. This ad is so inextricably linked with an especially hectic, simultaneously exhilarating, period at work that just hearing that beautiful piece of music puts the pictures in my head and sends the adrenalin pumping. I guess that’s an equal amount to do with the music than the ad, but to me they’re completely linked, so please give me that one.

I wonder what’s next?  I wait with bated breath. Recently there hasn’t been anything that’s stuck with me but oh, there will be, there will be. The next commercial message I’m obligated to obey, I’m here, ready and waiting.

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