My advice to wannabe planners (who want to work with FMCG clients)? Get a part time job in a supermarket! We've just had a work experience in (your moment of fame Charlie) who had a great intuitive knowledge of brands, competitor sets and audience profile from stacking shelves in Morrisons. Not to mention which products shifted quicker and a good understanding of the dark arts of supermarkets. Just saying is all.
The other day as I dialled into a conference call from home, it struck me that freephone numbers may not be as useful as they once were. If you don't have a landline, then unless freephone numbers are included in your minutes (like me!), you have to pay for the call ("calls to this number are chargeable from mobiles"). For mobile-only houses (which I'm sure I read are on the rise), a local number would be better as most minutes include these. I'm also pretty sure that a large percentage of households with landlines have packages that include unlimited local calls (by local I mean any 01 or 02 number) so they wouldn't have to pay either.
Thinking about calls to action (on BTL mostly), which would be better - and o1/o2 or freephone. Worth testing?
Finally got round to reading (well, starting) Watching the English by Kate Fox on my trip to India. It's only been two years since I put it on my list, which shows how far I got with this. It's pretty good, I reccommend it. A couple of bits that I liked:
Fox talks a lot about 'social dis-ease' and how the English are bloody crap at talking to strangers ('inhibited and embarrassed'). Interestingly, hairdressers and taxi drivers seem to live live outside this rule: '...it seems to be at least partly the lack of direct face-to-face eye contact that allows the English to shed their inhibitions in these contexts'. Fox suggests that doctors would be wise to create a situation where they don't look directly at the patients to get them to talk more freely.
Fox talks about the youth of today being 'increasingly affected by the culture of fear, and the risk-aversion and obsession with safety that have become defining features of contemporary society. This trend ... is associated with the stunted aspirations, cautiousness, conformism and lack of adventurous spirit that were evident among many of the young people in our survey and focus groups'. Not that survey groups are the be-all and end-all, but I came across similar things when working at the Labs, and think it's interesting given that the popular belief seems to be that all young people are gun-wielding, booze-fuelled maniacs who have children before they can vote.
The Daniel Miller observation that 'there is a tacit understanding among English shoppers to the effect that shopping is not an act of spending, but an act of saving'. Fox writes: 'You do not speak of having 'spent' x amount on an item of food or clothing, but of having 'saved' x amount on the item'. It would be interesting to think how you could create a retail environment or play around with product pricing to make people feel like they've saved.
Anyway, 200 pages to go, and more gems to uncover no doubt.
Random bit of information from India part 1: I discovered that two of Bollywood's biggest actors have 'lucky character names'. Salman Khan is 'Prem' in loads of his films and Shah Rukh often goes by the moniker 'Rahul'. Apparently they do this because these are the characters who made them famous, but it's a bit like Tom Cruise being called Maverick in every movie that he does. I guess Bollywood films are more vehicles for actors than serious opportunities to act so it's not that weird.
On the topic of Bollywood, it's also weird that old dudes like Aamir Khan are still playing college students. I also saw Kareena Kapoor in CST Airport, she was very unassuming.
I was discussing school trips with Mellie the other day, and a funny thing struck me about the school trips at my secondary school, Latymer. Let me list out the ones I can remember:
Latin - Florence, Rome, Sorrento Art - rotating between Bilbao and New York/Washington Geography - Iceland RE - Israel PE - Barbados (?!?) Media Studies - Hollywood (started after I'd left, or else I blatantly would have done Media Studies A-level)
History may have gone to Normandy, I can't remember. It strikes me that there is more incentive to do the leftfield, less academic subjects. I'm not really sure what the reasoning is behind this. Studying classic subjects is reward in itself? If you didn't do Media Studies at A-level, you'll probably get a place at a better university and therefore probably do better in life, so who needs a trip to LA when you're 17? Although I'm not sure students think like that.
Which got me thinking, that if we want kids to take up science and maths shouldn't we making them more attractive options? I'm not just saying throw a trip to Brazil into the curriculum (although it couldn't hurt), and I realise a straw poll of one, slightly odd school is not going to back anything up, but shouldn't the classical faculties look at offering, ahem, bribes of some sort. They might be the straw that gets an able but multi-talented student to choose maths over PE.
I am incredibly busy, not in an important way, just in the way that people in creative industries get from time to time. Here is a picture of a snow leopard stolen from the BBC's amazing Wildlife Finder (please don't sue me!). What a beautiful animal.
The four clocks I walk past on my way to work (technically I can also see the Houses of Parliament): Shellmex House 20/20 Optical Store Heal's Just outside the office
It's kind of useful not to have to expose my wrist to the elements but still have an idea of what the time is. It got me thinking about urban utility and how it's good when buildings (or the general environment) perform other tasks than the one that they were ostensibly built for. Clocks are a great example of this, but what else?
It seems as though advertising is the only other dual purpose that street furniture and buildings can find (bus shelters, phone boxes). I'm not saying we need to start some São Paulo-style advertising ban, but I would be interested to see what extra utility could be bought to the urban environment. Does it even have to be useful information? And in some instances could advertising provide that utility? I liked that AEG advert in Shoreditch last year that measured and displayed the decibel level (you can see it here via Laughing Squid) - and in a double win surely something that has a direct relationship with it's environment is more relevant and therefore more noticeable. We can't turn the filters off when we're being faced with useless facts can we? Or is that just me?
A bit of a ramble, but I think there's something in this urban/environmental utility and I'm sure some clever architects somewhere have got it all worked out.
I'm a big fan of the Google logo; in fact I'd always meant to start a blog where you recorded every day's image and what it linked to. While today's (now yesterday's I guess) wasn't as aesthetically pleasing as previousones, I liked how it told a little story: It would have been quite cool to have tricks and treats when you clicked through.
One part truth, two parts mixer is a digital notebook for Priyanka/@pristyles. Yes, you've reached another planner's blog - but it's mainly full of random thoughts and pretty pictures.
If you're reading, hello - it's nice to meet you.