Monthly Archives: January 2013

Dear Specsavers

specsavers logo

Dear Specsavers,

Thank you for being the only thing with even the remotest iota of credibility to emerge from the abysmal Chelsea player Eden Hazard “kicks” ball boy debacle. In a Mexican wave of abhorrence, you’ve given me reason to smile with this press and digital ad:



Specsavers Ball boy


So-called pundits may claim that the ball boy was “entitled” to writhe around, but to my eyes the whole sorry affair was a microcosm of almost everything that’s wrong with English football (Twitter (ball boy), cheating (ball boy), play-acting (ball boy), too much money too young (ball boy and players), harassing the ref (ball boy and players), being congratulated for cheating (players), the media’s reaction, the FA’s reaction…need I go on?)

But enough of that.

Well done you Specsavers and your in-house team for seizing the day and doing something topical. You’ve got form:

Specsavers Korean Flag


I like this kind of thing.

It’s quick, on-brand, thinking. And demonstrates that not everything in Marketing has to be passed through a complex series of approval committees. So thank you – just goes to show that a fantastic core brand idea – which I thanked you for here – can just keep on running and running.

Talking of great brand ideas, Lynx (brand idea: boy gets girl) did a similar thing after Prince Harry’s exploits in Vegas.



Doesn’t work quite as well for me as it’s based on supposition (i.e. that HRH might have been wearing Lynx) which is usually somewhat dodgy ground to be on, but nonetheless made me smile at the time.

Anyone got a snappy (cringe-worthy) name for what this type of topical, reactionary marketing should be called? Newsflash Marketing?

Thanks again,




Dear McVitie’s


McVitie's Logo

Dear McVitie’s

Thank you for prompting me to think about Me-toos with your Breakfast Porridge Oats biscuits:

McVitie's Breakfast - Porridge Oats

It appears that Kellogg’s are on the case too with their Nutri-Grain Breakfast biscuits:

Kellogg's Nutri-grain Breakfast Biscuits

And all because of a brand that no-one (in the UK at least) had heard of until a few years ago.


So what’s going on?

Well, according to The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2012 (it’s a cracking read), Kraft’s Belvita brand is now worth £45m and growing at over 70% per year.

Any sensible Marketeer would what a piece of that action, wouldn’t they?

Of course I could have been thanking Carling for their Stella Cidre looky-likey Carling British Cider:


Or it could have been BMW with their new 6-Series Gran Coupe which very clearly fills the slopey-rooved-4-door-sporty-looking-executive-car gap in their portfolio created by the Mercedes CLS, followed by the Audi A7, and the VW Passat CC:


Me-toos through and through.

But what’s wrong with that?

It strikes me that some Marketeers have a patronising tendency to look down on Me-toos or at least to talk about them in pejorative terms, which, at the risk of getting overly Freudian, may be born out of the dreaded childhood/playground accusation of being a “copy-cat”:

  • Can’t you think up your own ideas? 
  • It’s a blatant rip-off
  • It’s a shameful case of jumping on the band-wagon
  • Etc

Actually I think the negative attitude towards me-toos is driven by shaming feelings of:


  • Envy – “I wish we’d thought of that first”
  • Self-interest – “My boss won’t be too happy to see a competitor brand steal a march on us”
  • Differentiation myopia – “My brand must be different at all costs or else I’m not doing my job properly and will deserve the low esteem in which my Differentiate or Die minded colleagues will hold me in”


But if there’s a market, if consumers are spending their money on products that a brand is well placed to deliver but which they don’t currently produce, then why wouldn’t the brand go after it?

Even if they’re only doing it to make life difficult for the Me-one – aka “deploying a competitive blocker or harrasser” – surely it’s worth having a go? Surely it’s better to be on the band wagon than nowhere near it?

OK, McVitie’s (and Kellogg’s for that matter) you might have made slightly more effort to make your packaging design more distinctive (I smell research group influenced design here – although the somewhat weak counter-argument is that Belvita have already established the Breakfast Biscuit semiotic / category codes (i.e. yellow) and that you’ve got it right), but fundamentally, I believe you’ve done the right thing.

You’re a big brand known – in fact loved – for your biscuits.

There’s an emerging sub-segment, that a previously unknown competitor has all to themselves.

You should get after it and who cares if you didn’t think of it first.

Consumers certainly don’t care (at least won’t in about 2 minutes) and ultimately, they’re the ones that pay the bills.

You’re entirely right to have chased after Belvita and I suspect that you’ll all establish a reasonable share as (if) the category continues to grow, innovate and mature.


And finally, thanks McVitie’s for reminding me of the rant I had about the ineffective nature of your Passion for Baking strap line when I was thanking San Miguel here – you’ve saved me the trouble of working myself up into another rant on this beautifully blue-skied January day which is giving every indication that Spring is on the way – hurrah!

Thanks again




Dear logo


Thank you for keeping up the fantastic work with your latest ad: Astronaut.

Thank you for the details – they make all the difference:

  • The kids’ lunchbox
  • The cycle helmet
  • The salute
  • The choppers
  • The fact that Alan is about a foot shorter than his fellow astronauts
  • The helmet bump
  • The slow-mo jog
  • The boxer-swag
  • The “initiate lift-off sequence” face
  • And of course, the Top Gun backing track

All genius.

And building perfectly on your previous work which I thanked you for here.

Thanks again