Tuesday, January 13, 2009

No Escape

Nice post from freelance team Ben & James about a flight on Icelandair.

"When I first stepped onto the plane and noticed that my headrest had been branded with a little message, I was quite charmed," says Ben (or perhaps James).

But by the time he gets his meal... and finds that even his napkin has been branded, he's had enough. And lays into them.

It seems like airlines are particularly overcommunicative. I recall coffee cups on Virgin telling me: "Watch out, I may be hot!" and sugar sachets announcing: "I'm sweet."

Shut up already.


Anonymous said...

Pret-a-Manger is also prone to this kind of twee over-communication. Awful.

william said...

Yeah, I blame your bearded mate at Innocent for this.

Ainara said...

It's really funny.
That "shut up already" line could be applied to so many things.
Like machines that talk. I hate going for fuel, and having the gas pump talk to me, telling me what I already know.
I don't want a machine to be feminine and nice. I just want it to work.

Anonymous said...

And Mailmaison's

Anonymous said...

I think innocent are actually one of the few brands who get this stuff right.

Ben Kay said...

In the lavs, does it say: after a bit of pillaging, HoogleBoogleFloogle the elder enjoyed a hearty wank.

But he had to do it into an old sock because he didn't have all this brilliant bog roll lying about.


If not, they haven't really done it properly, have they?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the only positive upside to the recession will be the end of this awful whimsical friendliness from brands. If you're worried about your pension, your job and your house the last thing you want is a sandwich wrapper trying to be your friend. Who knows, maybe typographers will start using capital letters at the beginning of sentences?

George said...

Dave Trott wrote about an over communicative tube lift a few days or weeks ago.

'Shut Up Already!'

Anonymous said...

I don't like Prets tone of voice.

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

But yet everyone praises it from Innocent.

So what is the difference that makes theirs good..?

Anonymous said...

Puccino's is the worst offender for this type of shit. I have to admit, although it makes me want to burn their kiosks down, I like that they at least try. And I'm sure the type of people who vote Kerry Katona "Mum of the Year" and phone radio stations to take part in "debates" lap it up.

Anonymous said...

it's like when you accidently google "lesbian bite fest" instead of "holiday deals" and then you accidentally click on one of the sites and then they inundate you with pop up after pop up as you accidentally try and lacquer the underside of your desk before the account team come knocking.

Anonymous said...

Innocent is just annoying these days too though. I think this 'hey we're a kind of friendly but wacky brand who's really like a real person' stuff is well dated. And fake.

Anonymous said...

I reckon one of the best examples of this kind of thing was when there was a little note from Julian Metcalfe, the CEO of Pret, on the Pret bags. If I remember correctly, his phone number was included and he invited you to call him if you had any comments/issues.

Anonymous said...

To us Innocent is tarnished because we know all the shit that they put agencies through. But, to the average Joe, I think they are probably still held in high regard because they were the first to be so wholesome and lovely. And the story of how they launched is a great story.

Anonymous said...

I think that, to the 'Average Joe', Innocent is simply overpriced fruit juice. And they couldn't give a stuff about the 'great story' of how a bunch of rich City types started a company.

Anonymous said...

Had similar conversation with the wife about Puccinos. As a very occasional user, I quite like all the stuff on the cups and napkins. As a frequent customer, they wind her up no end. Which is probably the exact opposite of what they intend. Suggests too much personality only works from a distance.

Anonymous said...

Ant - I called him! He answered! I said I wanted to complain about the volume of bean sprouts in a noodle salad (these were the days before you could set up a Facebook group)

He said "How did you get my number?"

I Said "It's on the side of the pack"

He said "Christ, I fucking told them to take that off"

Rocker Man said...

I think there is sometimes merit in finding a message in somewhere unexpected.

Finding a note from a (Polish?) munitions worker inside a blank shell in WW2. Audi incorporating 'quattro' into the elements of the rear screen heater so it would show on icy mornings. (No - I'm not saying the second is nearly as useful as the first. And no, I'm not trying to make any smart-alec 'what successful German marques actually got up to between 1939 and 1945' references).

But I think there's a time and a place for some interesting, discreet pieces of communication. Napkins? Sugar wrappers? Nah. And now that every micro-brewery, independent crisp brand etc has got some sort of hippy-dippy homespun twaddle on the back of the pack I think it's time to move on.

If it says something interesting about the brand - maybe. But if it's simply there to fill a space that would otherwise be empty.....

Anonymous said...

What really pisses me off about Pret - to the pont of NOT buying their sandwiches - are the childish posters they stick in their windows. Who's their agency, anyone know? Or is it all done in house?

Anonymous said...

Anon 1.41 - ha, that's very funny!

Anon 2.23 - totally agree about those Pret posters. The lines are all dreadful puns and the tone of voice is simpering and childish.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:41 - do you still have it?

Anonymous said...

don't know about pret's agency, but they're owned by Coke now aren't they?

I think Innocent lost credibility when they did a deal with McDonalds. Not so Innocent then.

Maybe that's when their hippy nonsense started to seem even faker.

Anonymous said...

The Pret work seems to come out of some outfit in Norwich: www.balloondog.co.uk

'Nuff said.

Auge said...

You don't have it on that side of the pond, but in Taco Bell eating countries, they've had messages embedded in their sauce bags for quite some time and they are mildly funny too.

This is the first place I remember seeing this type of thing, but I live in the Caribbean and who knows what company imports what first or not, so it's all rather confusing for me.

Richard Morris said...

Sorry to be a pedant - i just cant help myself. To whoever described the Innocent founders as 'rich city types'. Richard Reed was a grad trainee at BMP. They started the company on BMP's 4th floor using a phone lent to them by the agency and all their initial distribution was in newsagents in Paddington. Thy used to research all the flavours in BMP reception. You might not like them - but they are one of our own. And the homely stuff is very genuine.

Anonymous said...

ah man, don't be so churlish. all this corporate over-sharing keeps your fellows in graphic novels and shell-toes and out of your place in the dole queue. I'd say someone's got to do it, but that would be a half-truth. y'know, someone DOES it.

my favourite bit in that post is their totally captain use of the word admiral.

Anonymous said...

Innocent are not Innocent, people like Ben and Jerry have a more genuine story, get stoned want ice cream. Not a bunch of marketing savvy suited wanna be hippies.

Anonymous said...

Yeah i think innocent started with good honest roots, but the more corporate they get the less it seems to wash, even McDonalds want to be our friend.

Anonymous said...

whoever was asking, Pret are also part-owned by McDonalds.

If Innocent were so innocent, lovely and caring they'd stop fucking charging +£2 for a thimble of liquidised fruit. This only feels 'innocent' to idiots who think it's worth spending +£2 on a thimble of liquidised crushed fruit.

Brands like Innocent are just that; premium brands designed to make serious wads of cash by exploiting a logical loophole in consumer brains (which they've done very well).

Fuckin irony; a bunch of ad folk who beleive there is such a thing as an 'innocent' and 'caring' brand (and one that's part owned by McDonalds!!)

Get a grip.

Anonymous said...

Remember when matches used to have logic puzzles on the back? Them were the days. I recently bought a lighter that had instructions. I couldn't believe it. Plus, as a friend pointed out when he tried to follow the instructions, they were wrong.

Anonymous said...

I tried to replicate an innocent smoothie and the fruit came to £4.20.

S'not a bad deal.


Anonymous said...

...and what's really going to screw you guys is that this form of brand communication is probably more powerful that the TV spot that is obcessed about so frequently on this blog....Icelandair have got the right idea.

Anonymous said...

station master - speak for yourself.

someone who pretends to be all cuddly while doing deals with satan is not one of my own...

they are also, I've heard, nightmares to work for - and I'm not necessarily talking about agency pitches.

dangermain said...

Don't really want to get involved in this debate, but should clarify that we (innocent) are not owned by McDonalds, neither wholly nor partially. We trialled our kids smoothies in some of their places in 2007. That's how we are linked - thought I should halt any Chinese whispers right there.

The Station Master (4.07pm) gets the story pretty much spot on. None of the founders ever worked in the City and were skint when they started the company. I myself used to be an English teacher (therefore also skint).

That's all for now.

Dan Germain (aforementioned bearded innocent writer)

Anonymous said...

Hallo Scamp

Just as over-communicating is annoying, so too under.
Many shops in Asia don't like to show their unit number on their shop front.
Seems the designers tell them it's ugly.
However, in a huge mall, it's hard getting to a shop you've never been to when every darn shop has no unit number displayed.
Because you just don't know if you're walking towards the shop you want, or further from it.

Similarly, these days, ads love to leave out details.
I'm into lenses and cameras.
So it freaks me when some top brand sells a new camera or lens.
And basic info such a lens aperture and zoom range are not mentioned at all.
They just bang on about more MegaPixels, cool design, award-winning etc etc.

Advertising said...

If you turn a carton of Innocent Smoothie upside down it says "stop looking at my bottom". Pret couldn't do that - it's not easy to laugh when you've just scalded your thighs.

It works so well for Innocent because that's all they've ever had as advertising, right from the start.

Matches now come with a little warning: "WARNING! Fire kills children!" Just children, then? The picture is a stick man with its arm on fire. Best.

]-[appy Thought said...

I agree with whoever said that the problem is not that brands try and talk to you, but they try and talk to you badly, or just overwhelm you. There was a good post about a hotel that had "fun" little messages on EVERYTHING on Welcome To Optimism.


I think what this hotel, and the napkin thing lacks is charm. Innocent oozes charm but people who copy it without working out why it works come over more as that weird guy on the bus who'll talk shit to anyone rather than your friend with something interesting to say.

Rocker Man said...

The matches message is a winner. And so is this;

"Allergy Warning: This product contains mustard"

Surprisingly enough this was found on a jar of...... mustard.

That wasn't you "The Client Said" was it?

Just checking.

william said...

Do you remember the bit in "The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy" where Arthur Dent is persecuted on the Heart of Gold by electronic voices saying things like "you like scented air, it's fresh and invigorating?"

In fairness, I reckon Mr. Germain deserves props for creating a brand that sounded more like a person than a marketing person. The problems have arisen from marketing people trying to do the same thing.

Malmaison's brand voice is perfect, the hotel where footballers take escorts.

Anonymous said...

dan germain -

it says on your website that some customers 'may feel a bit funny' about Innocent being in McDonalds. I think that sums up how patronising your brand is. and why it's been mentioned in this thread.

secondly, have you read Fast Food Nation?
there are plenty of smoothie companies, without your ethical positioning, but who have a product just as natural, who mcd's could do a deal with. in other words offering a healthy option didn't need you. so why did Innocent get involved - unless it's about market share and actually PR and brand awareness? A highly calculated business move made to look like a health crusade. which exposes your brand as a sham and also gives credibility in many peoples' eyes to McDonalds.

if you are serious about getting your product to more kids with poor diets why not reduce your eye wateringly high prices? and not just in schools - which is no doubt subsidised by the tax payer.

third, if your company is ethical, why aren't any of your ingredients organic? as they are in some of your, less celebrated, competitors.

@TroyMaloy said...

I always find the comments section on this blog really interesting. A lot of you often forget that you're surrounded with all this marketing/advertising/branding stuff 24/7 because you work in the industry, but Joe Public sees things in a very different way. It's kind of like how I can spend hours looking at/watching beautifully made or designed ads and brochures but my girlfriend thinks it's plain boring and a waste of time. We may find it too much but I reckon the masses love it. Some brands may not want the masses to like them but don't the other 90% strive to get the masses? (Please don't shoot me down, this is my first comment post.)

dangermain said...

Hello Anonymous 10.04pm

Happy to talk about any of the stuff you mention, but never feel comfortable talking to someone called Anonymous (I had a run in with some Scientologists last year who started sending me weird messages and they all called themselves Anonymous too). Drop an email to dan at innocentdrinks dot co dot uk and we can have a proper chat, with names and everything.

Dan (Germain)