Monthly Archives: May 2011

Dear Woodward’s Gripe Water

Dear Woodward’s Gripe Water,

Thank you for being wonderfully Victorian. The words “Gripe Water” transport me to another world.

I cannot quite put my finger on why you’re so appealing….it’s a whole load of different things really, so I’ll thank you for all of them:

Thank you for not changing in the 150 years that you’ve been around – it kind of proves that you do what you claim you do. “New improved, Gripe Water, now with Simethicone” (or whatever) just doesn’t hold the same appeal.

Thank you for making me think of all the babies you’ve helped – I like the idea that you were given to my great-grandparents by their parents – in pretty much exactly the same way as we give you to our children.

Thank you for surviving all this time – you’re the sort of brand that I would have imagined might have disappeared along with horse-drawn taxis and the penny-farthing…you make me feel nostalgia for a past that I didn’t experience. (Note to self: Must invent time-machine.)

Thank you for not really bothering to update yourself – it shows a confidence and stoicism that’s admirable.

Thank you for being a constant, whilst parents have been getting  their knickers in a twist. There seems to be so much for parents to worry about these days – the relative merits of the latest babycare fad, what “tog”  sleeping bag baby would prefer, which pram is the most practical, which steriliser is the most sterile, which bottles are / are not BPA-free, which baby-monitor to go for (with or without an integrated room thermometer?), reusable or disposable nappies , etc etc – I like the way you sit in the corner of the bedroom like a wise old owl who’s seen it all before.

Thank you for having owners (formerly SSL International and now Reckitt Benckiser) that either have the good sense or lack of interest to leave you alone, doing what you do best – I get the impression that you’ll never fall into the wrong hands.

And thank you for helping to make Arthur’s tummy feel better. If he knew what was going on, I’m sure he’s appreciate it as much as his Mum and Dad do.

Thanks again.



Dear Lucozade Sport Lite

Dear Lucozade Sport Lite,

Thank you for making me think about why brands reposition themselves.

You’ve gone from this (at launch about a year ago):

To this (which has just hit our screens):

Poles, leagues, galaxies apart – almost shockingly so.

Clearly something has happened to make you reposition so radically…but what I wonder?

Is it because the people you thought would drink you (i.e. gym go-ers) aren’t actually drinking you, and instead you’re being drunk by the weight conscious as a lifestyle drink / hangover cure and you felt the need to reposition in the “lifestyle sports” space?

Is it because you thought you had to start with a clean positioning slate after you had to recall & withdraw your Summer Berries variant on account of the unpleasant smell and mould growth?

Is it because squash / swimming / spinning / the treadmill are all a bit middle-aged (and consequently by definition a bit boring) and you wanted to give yourself bit more of a dynamic (youthful, funky, multicultural) brand personality?

Is it because people just don’t quite get the idea of a low-calorie energy drink and as a result aren’t buying it? (I know you’re about replenishing salts and minerals and whatnot, but loads of people drink you like you’re an energy drink that’s somehow a bit more justifiable than Red Bull, Monster, Relentless etc)

Is it becuase Powerade Zero has come along with a sharper, more aspirational and appealing proposition and started making life difficult for you? (Helped by Coca-Cola’s distribution muscle of course)

Is it because you’re doing really well, you’ve maxed out on the gym-goer segment (both in terms of mindspace and distribution) and now you’re going after an additional audience (whilst trying to keep hold of your gym-goers)?

Is it because you got a new Marketing Director who appointed a new agency, neither of whom wanted to be associated with the past / both of whom wanted to “make an impact”? Or maybe you gave the task to a new funky young creative team from within the existing agency?

Is it because you kept the same Marketing Director and ad agency, but they fancied a trip to the beach / Los Angeles to top up their tans?

Or is it simply because you’re not selling as much as you thought you would and you need to shift some volume, so you’ve thrown caution to the wind and gone for something radical in the hope that a change is as good as a rest – a bit of a double or quits strategy?

I’m sure there are loads and loads more reasons why you’ve repositioned, but thanks for making me think about the possibilities – it’s been an intriguing diversion…and I would have loved to have seen the brief to see if any of my hypotheses were correct!

Thanks again


Dear Fosters

Dear Fosters,

Thank you for giving me a right laugh:

OK, OK, I know it’s puerile, childish and generally not the sort of humour that should appeal…but that final exchange between Warren and his girlfriend makes me laugh every time I see it – the actress deserves a Bafta.

Thank you for the UK-Australia telephone call “device” – you’ve got yourself a truly campaignable advertising idea that many brands seek but fail to find.

Thank you for your “Good Call!” strapline – it’s simple, memorable and beautifully sums up the brand personality.

Thank you for blatantly and unashamedly playing to social, sexual and national stereotypes…if you had been timid, you wouldn’t be half as funny. Sure the Political Correctness brigade might not like it, but they’re probably not buying Fosters anyway, so who cares.

Thank you for being unmistakably Fosters. Your humour is similar to that of Carling – who I thanked here – and with Castlemaine XXXX and Toohey’s a distant memory for most UK consumers, there’s little chance of the dreaded “great-ad-but-can’t-remember-what-brand-it-was-for” scenario.

Thanks again


Dear Muller

Dear Muller,

Thank you for thanking cows, thank you for giving us the super-mo of Mary galloping along a beach and thank you for being bit of a no-brainer post on this blog.

Your ad is heart-warming, beautiful and in my humble opinion, total genius:

You could so easily have looked like a pastiche of Cadbury’s unrepeatable Gorilla – but you don’t, so nice one.  Here’s that Gorilla for good measure and completeness – 4 years on, it still makes me smile:

I know I’ve thanked you before – here – for your glorious Made in Shropshire ad, but once again, your soundtrack selection is utterly superb.

Please may I borrow your iPod?

Thanks again.


Dear HP

Dear HP,

Thank you for giving me a right laugh by putting Dr Dre into a pair (?) of hydraulically-powered-audio-enhanced-face-and-gas-mask-ski-goggles in your ad for your HP Envy laptop:

I know he’s a doctor, but come on, this futuristic surgical mask does make him look just a little bit silly…which is pleasingly ironic for someone who appears to take himself somewhat seriously. Here’s the full ad:

This effort of yours – from Australia? – is much, much better:

The good doctor’s collaboration with Monster – to create the beats by dr dre brand – is actually pretty insightful, being based on the genuine insight that cheap headphones make good music sound crap:

With all the additional celebrity endorsement from Lady Gaga – and lots of other people I haven’t heard of but who appear to be major music / rap stars – and apparent stella product performance, there’s clearly something in the brand.

Therefore the logic of applying the beats  brand to laptops (which also make music sound crap) as a “branded ingredient” makes a good deal of sense, especially given the precedent set by Intel:

Although I’m not yet entirely convinced by the brand fit between you, HP, and Compton’s resident GP, I do think that it’s admirable that you’re trying to solve a genuine consumer problem with a combination of technology and branding. It’s certainly a better route than descending into mind-boggling techo-babble.

So thanks for that and for giving me a laugh with Dr Dre’s goggles.