Archive for the 'media' Category

That apology


This Sachsgate thing, or whateveryawantacallit, one curious thing: that picture behind Russell Brand as he makes his apology. Sly dig or just coincidental…?

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Global societal trends can be measured by zombies


There’s one thing guaranteed to make a trends watcher happy, and that’s a daft correlation. Never mind hemline indexes and all that jazz, how about creating a chart that demonstrates that major society upheavals are somehow connected to trends in zombie movie production. Simply wonderful.

Are we in a post-genre era?

The erosion of attention spans as a consequence of the digital era is not a cutting-edge theory. The oceans of information at our fingertips can’t all be read, watched or listened to, so we skim and snack and that habit is going to affect the way we think.
Maggie Jackson’s claim to this idea is doing the media rounds as she promotes her book, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. She’s interviewed on the Point of Inquiry podcast.
Those of us who were raised in households where the TV was dominant and where the radio was the rebellious medium can remember how the major youth tribes were influenced by the social conditions of the time. Punk was rooted in the disconnection with a polarised and extreme political landscape (when there was a real difference between the left and the right), and the subsequent movements – New Romantics, House etc. – underlined the attitudes towards sexual identity, drugs, violence, that the young did not share with their elders.
The recent Adbusters post about Hipsters was bang on target: they call the point we’ve reached “hipsterdom”, a point where all the countercultures and tribes come together. There’s no originality and the ability to shock is very diluted.
The culture we now have is one where the more people we know, the fewer we know really well. With music, the more genres we’re exposed to (in original or mashed-up form), the smaller or shorter-lived are their associated tribes. It’s got to the point where adults are now more likely to share the musical tastes of their teenage children than at any other time.
Music genres no longer matter because new media has taken their place. It’s handsets instead of hippies, PS3s instead of punks. Have their been any big, new musical tribes this century? No – certainly nothing new. Some of the new things were Playstation 2 (2000), the iPod (2001), Myspace (2004).
In the UK, mobile phone penetration amongst 16-24 year olds leapt from around 70% in 2000 to over 95% in 2007.
In fact, technology and the digital space now moves so fast that they spread and kill off these tribes. Youth will always find places to meet away from the adults, but it’ll take an unknown catalyst to cause them to do so in society-changing numbers.

Oldies just wanna have fun

It’s one of those delicious coincidences. Both stories appeared in most of yesterday’s papers, but nobody made the obvious connection. At last: a genuine news story almost supports the findings of a survey.
Story 1: Over 70’s are having more sex.
Story 2: Max Mosley’s S&M orgy amuses the High Court.
OK, minor flaws in the argument are that Mosley is a sprightly 68, and the sex survey says the women are enjoying it more than the men.
But it is interesting how our newspapers treat our seniors as media freaks if they don’t conform to the carpet slippers stereotype. At the very least, one should respect them for their spending power.

Food fights cancelled until further notice

Poor old Gordon Brown – even when he’s right, he’s wrong.
He emerged from the G8 conference, whence he enjoyed a feast that included Smoked Salmon and Sea Urchin, Hot Onion Tart, Kelp-flavoured cold Kyoto Beef shabu-shabu, asparagus dressed with sesame cream, Diced fatty flesh of Tuna Fish, Avocado and Jellied Soy Sauce, and Japanese Herb “Shiso”, Japanese Herb “shiso” in jellied clear soup of clam, Boiled Prawn and Jellied Tosazu-Vinegar and Grilled Eel rolled around Burdock strip… and that’s just the first two courses (of eight). And we mustn’t neglect the wines, which include Le Reve Grand Cru Brut and (one of my favourite lunchtime tipples), a cheeky Ridge California Monte Bello 1997.
All very well and good, but speaking to reporters at the conference, he said (quoting the BBC) that “unnecessary” purchases were contributing to price rises, and urged people to plan meals in advance and store food properly.
The poor fellow has never lived down the “Mister Bean” tag given to him by Vince Cable. This “advice” reinforces that view (or mine, at least) of an error-prone clown, and his timing is trebly bad: troughing it at the G8; MPs have just voted to keep their inflation-busting expenses; and he’s a year late.
It doesn’t take much to notice how consumer habits are changing. The second week in April was the tipping point – when all the national papers front-paged the credit crunch because Britons were altering their lifestyles to accommodate their shrinking pockets.
Brown would have been better off giving us this advice a year ago, when he was fresh to the PM post. The storm clouds were on the horizon, but consumer confidence was still high. That would have been a good time to be nanny.
Up to very recently, the plethora of restaurant shows (Hell’s Kitchen and Ramsay’s Umpteenth Wotsits or whatever his latest prog was called) showed angry chefs tossing poorly-presented or too-cold food into the bin. I’m surprised there was little fuss at the time. I can’t imagine that being repeated now (the last Hell’s Kitchen was only aired last year).
I’m wondering how quickly new shopping habits will morph into new consumption habits. Watch out for the growth in a new type of food advice that has just started to appear in the media. This is where Brown is actually right, even though it’s a pity that the messenger can’t be taken seriously. Food thrift. Buying in-season veg. Imaginative use of leftovers. And, to me, the big one: meal planning.
The latter is an interesting one, and, in my opinion, the hardest to achieve.
It means a new relationship with the fridge. The fridge has made us lazy browsers and is probably one of the chief villains in the rise of unhealthy eating habits. The fridge means a place to store ready meals. The fridge means there’s a place for everything that takes your fancy when you’re shopping. Just stuff it now, and decide what to eat later.
It’ll be an interesting thing to research recipe book trends (no, I can’t be bothered, but I bet there’s a pattern) to see how the bestsellers reflect our changing relationship to food. Will we see, over the next few months, new works by Delia, Nigella and Jamie that tell us what to do with stale bread and yesterday’s beans?

The day we came over That Heinz Ad

The otherwise generally OK Heinz Ad With Those Blokes Kissing (which was watched chez Houghton with a chuckle by the kiddies) raises an interesting issue. The furore over the apparently Gay Kiss has led to calls for the now-removed ad to be reinstated.
Now think about this. If we all want it to be reinstated, will it be because it is Right And Proper (i.e. shouldn’t have been removed in the first place and we want Heinz to show some balls, er no, I mean spunk, no, I mean backbone), or because we just want to piss of those numpty Daily Mail readers and Jon Gaunt?
I’m all for winding up Daily Mail readers and Jon Gaunt, but it’s hardly the basis of a good advertising campaign, is it?

(Fake but plausible Daily Mail front page courtesy of Daily Mail Headlineinator)

The public bucks the media

What’s puzzling about the current story about the government’s bid to legalise the holding of terror suspects for up to 42 days is the public’s response.

Despite consistent opposition from the newspapers, the howling down of ministers on BBC1’s Question Time, the overexposure of media darling Shami Chakrabarti (director of Liberty, the human rights group), and the government’s record low rating in the polls, the public is backing the 42-day rule.

When was the last time that the public broke its habit of following the media line?


Self-important bit

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I’m Victor Houghton, a, er... something or other in one of the UK’s largest advertising agencies. My job title has a comma in it, which is embarrassing. I’m the chief finder-things-outer with a splash of trends who is lucky to work with all the major functions of the agency, even though I am most closely associated with strategic planning. Everything in this blog has most probably been stolen from other, infinitely more talented people, although the opinions are most definitely my own and not those of the agency.

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