Ads that make me mad
|Colm Carey explains his displeasure with some ad campaigns doing the rounds|
It all started with a press ad a while back. It urged me to unplug my personal computer, hi-fi system, TV and other household appliances rather than leave them on standby. All those tiny red lights have an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels.
It's a serious issue. Sure, we've even had Eamon Ryan, the Green Party's Mr Energy, saying that an all-party energy review is to consider following the lead of the Aussies by forcing the electrical manufacturers reduce the energy levels of standby mode.
As a compliant kind and one with an average environmental conscience, I wasted no time in running around the house pulling plugs and flicking switches before sitting back with a cup of Barry's and a smug smile. Today I saved the planet, I thought.
A couple of nights later I happened to be driving past the headquarters of a major mobile phone company in Dublin. I noticed the place ablaze with light but empty as Jessica Simpson's brain. So I saw red on two levels.
For one thing, why is someone making me feel bad about my leaving my microwave on standby when these guys have a multi-storey lit up in the middle of the night with 'sleeping' machines? Where are the fossil fuel police when you need them?
Two. Why do I keep hearing about cost cutting and tariff hikes when a company is recklessly burning the midnight oil and charging me and all its other loyal customers the privilege of keeping an empty office block illuminated?
Then I start to ask myself why a mobile phone company needs a huge office block in the first place? Every time I look at their ads, they tell me I don't need an office. If I use their e-mobile gizmo in a laptop I can work from the middle of a field or the back of a car. It's a classic case of do what we say, not what we do.
When I was a kid, there was a family in the neighbourhood who wrecked everything they got their hands on. A new bicycle lasted about three months. Shoes were destroyed in days and toy soldiers lost their heads in minutes.
I saw a recent ad for Irish Rail created by AFA O'Meara and was mighty impressed. It seems the company also known as Iarnrod Eireann just got a new train set. But for some reason my old friends from childhood days came to mind.
When the new City Gold carriages came on stream we were promised train travel as never experienced before. The first time I used it a well-dressed stewardess greeted us on arrival at the carriage and showed us to our seats.
Crisp newspapers were handed out and as we rolled from the station we each received a set of headphones to plug into the onboard music system. We all felt dead posh and the customer satisfaction must have been obvious to any passer by.
But some time later I had another City Gold experience. No stewardess, no papers, no headphones and a dirty carriage. Hopefully, this time they will manage to keep up appearances and the new dawn will be more than just a press ad.
Car ads get me going but not in the way they intend. I hate all the Jeremy Clarkson stuff they go on with. On the one hand the industry is all piety and “slow down boys”. On the other it is full on vroom-vroom and fuel injection testesterone.
The most annoying bit is that instead of being upfront and saying this car goes like a rocket, they come over all coy about acceleration, BHP and automatic road hugging technology. All designed just to keep your baby safe. How about a little more creativity chaps and perhaps the chance of a better trade-in price?
At least the airlines have come down to earth. No more popping a pillow behind your neck ads. It is all about price. You wanted cheap, you got cheap. Now shut up and read your magazine. The ads are not cute or clever but at a least they don't make a lot of promises which they have no chance of keeping.
Dublin Airport Authority ads bother me. If the company, known to flyers up to recently as Aer Rianta, really wants to get us to the plane and on our way lickety split, why is the airside of the terminal like a poor man's Dundrum Shopping Centre?
It seems purposely designed to slow you down and cause congestion. There is no way to avoid the shops. Is this a people moving company or a shopping mall developer? Someone needs to get their act together and build a proper airport.
There is a hoarding on the Stillorgan Road with classy photos of sophisticated women with “hello boys” looks and a promise that what is going on behind is a miracle of contemporary living. Actually it's a bunch of apartments, or a housing estate.
But the property developers seem to know better than the meat producers that you have to sell the sizzle, not the sausage. All right, I am on a rant here but there is a point to it. Do corporate executives and their agencies really think we are that dumb?
Are we really that dumb? There is a stage at which aspirational advertising seems to reflect more the aspirations of the advertiser than the target consumer. It is all too clever by half and represents the mythical half of advertising money which is wasted.
Colm Carey, director of The Research Centre, is a psychologist and qualitative researcher