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'The rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket'

That is what Orwell termed advertising. Having been in that game some years ago, I have some fondness for it as an alumnus as well as a consumer, but a statement in the House makes advertising for the Department of Communities and Local Government look very like an Escher drawing made real.

On planet reality, advertising ends up being measured by increased sales, holding or building market share or by recognotion of brand, beyond issues of audience reach and the like. A quote variously attributed to Viscount Leverhulme and John Wanamaker noted 'I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I can never find out which half'.

More anecdotes shortly, but on with the plot:

John Hayes (C): "To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what measurable change in people's attitudes or actions in each relevant area followed the advertising campaigns to which she referred to in the answer of 10 July 2006..."

Angela E. Smith: The information is as follows: "The Fire Safety campaign delivered a rise in recognition of the new fire prevention advertising from 23 per cent. in August 2004 to 46 per cent. in November 04 and 52 per cent. in March 2005;

The elected regional assemblies campaign delivered a rise in public awareness from 41 per cent. in April to 54 per cent. in September 2004".

And so on. There are a few examples of behavioural differences in the wake of advertising, for example 'the campaign to encourage women to apply for posts in the fire and rescue service delivered a 20 per cent. increase in the number of applications from women when the campaign was running', but we are deeply into post hoc ergo post propter hoc territory.

Put another way, Orwell's pigs are more likely to be aware that a noise is being made than before, but they will not necessarily be rushing back to the sty.

And because I feel like it, an anecdote: "Everybody sat around thinking aboout Panasonic, the Japanese electronics account. Finally I decided , what the hell, I'll throw a line to loosen them up...'The headline is, the headline is: 'From The Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor'". Jerry Della Femina 1970.

Supposedly the unfortunate receptionists at one London agency once had to answer the 'phone thus: "Good morning WCRS Matthews Marcantonio Della Femina Bell". It could have been worse - WCRS stood for Wight Collins Rutherford Scott.


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Anonymous David Allen said... 12:29 pm

C, I used to deal with WCRS in the days (before?) there were a Della Femina and a Bell involved, BUT, I can assure you that their receptionists definitely DID answer the phone, in full:
"Wight Collins Rutherford Scott Matthews Marcantonio" all chirruped by a cheeky cockney sparrer..
This had my vote as dumbest agency moniker, but some colleagues preferred 'Still Price Court Twivy D'Souza' _ now agencies just sem to be one-worders like 'Farm' or 'Mango' or 'Monkey'...  

Blogger Croydonian said... 12:37 pm

Excellent, an urban legend is verified. One of the WCRS quartet is One of Us, or was. I think he stood in '87 or '92.

Might it be that ad men were a little more insecure than lawyers, accountants and the like and wanted their names in lights rather than sliding into initial-dom? I think the 'rule' in these parts was no more than 3 names to a professional partnership, although our American friends tended to go further. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP is quite a mouthful.  

Blogger Ed Clarke said... 1:18 pm

There are some brilliantly named American firms in the industry I work in...!  

Anonymous David Allen said... 1:26 pm

Yes, C. The 'W' in WCRS was Paul Wight _ I remember bumping into him at a Tory conference back in 1990/91. At the time he was the highest paid director in adland on something like £0.75mil p.a. Now probably enjoying a very luxurious retirement.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 1:41 pm

Ed - submissions are welcome.

I rather like Wayne Kerr Electronics. Totally work safe - they make component testing equipment.  

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