Month: March 2020

Why spending money does not buy you friends.

This week, Michael Bloomberg called time on his attempt to win the Democratic nomination to run against President Trump. The New York billionaire laid out roughly $550 million in just over three months of campaigning.

Bloomberg spent a mind-boggling $5.4 million a day.

He spent about $227,000 — which is a little less than three times the average American household’s annual income — every single hour.

And still no one liked him.

Hey advertising people, there may be a lesson for us all here. Spend does not equate engagement. If you talk to people who do not want to listen, you can talk to them all day and all night and still they won’t care.

And even worse, they will actively reject you, and sometimes seriously damage you. Yes I’m talking about you New Coke, you, Pepsi Kendall Jenner social conscience ad and you, Hoover flight giveaway campaign.


There are lots of reasons why people don’t want to listen, but chief amongst them is that you are probably talking about things they truly don’t care about. This is why the strategy behind your campaign is as vital as the creative route you take.

I once had a client who insisted we talk about the fact that when you pressed a button on their product it glowed blue, rather than the previous year’s red, forgetting that the consumer only cares about the benefit of the change not the mechanics of the change itself.

In the days when dinosaurs ruled the earth and advertising was a one way street, true engagement was less vital. There was only 1 channel showing adverts (2 when Ch4 emerged in 1982), so generally consumers were happy with whatever pap the ad agencies wanted to feed them, but woe betide the advertiser in 2020 who ignores the interests and opinions of their consumers, for they will end up like Bloomberg, unloved and unsupported, though unlike little Mike, they won’t be multi billionaires.


 I need to mask a question.....

Sitting on the tube this morning I counted 6 people wearing face masks. On the escalators at Angel, another 3 or 4 (one might have been a student fashion statement, it’s sometimes hard to tell). And these weren’t kooky Halloween masks or spooky Venice Carnival masks, they were slightly crappy surgical masks, clearly able to protect their wearers from absolutely nothing.

Surgical masks are this winter’s latest must-have accessory, battling with cashmere beanies and camouflage puffas for style icon of the year award. But really…Much like the nuclear bomb blast warnings of the 60s that suggested we take cover under a table, they have about as much safety effect as a pierced condom, plus you look like an out of work serial killer whilst wearing one.

I’m not belittling the Coronavirus, it’s clearly a serious issue, but guess what, flu killed over half a million people last year and I don’t remember Milan going into lockdown over it. 

Words like Pandemic, (epidemic’s, cool hipster brother) seem to send us into a tailspin of panic, desperate to clasp onto any snake oil that will protect us. The simple facts are that if you are in good health, you are far more likely to die from being hit by a bus than the Coronavirus.


Essentially, the Coronavirus is a success of awesome marketing over substance. It’s like flu could only advertise on traditional media, but COVID 2019 went all social media on our asses and suddenly it’s all we can think about.

Stay safe on the streets, be smart, wash your hands, don’t cough all over your work colleagues, but also stay sane, look both ways when you cross the street, avoid badly cut puffer fish and maybe don’t cycle, because you are far, far, far more likely to end up in an ambulance if you ride a bike than if you don’t wear a mask on the tube. And flu, if you want a far more effective social campaign, drop me a line, I’m sure I can up your likes and engagement.