Oh I’m sorry, was that a bit much? Was I laying it on a bit thick? Perhaps you don’t mind that sort of language, in the privacy of your one-on-one encounter with your computer screen. I’m not too bothered about that either. But when it is blazoned across several large billboards in Wandsworth I raised an eyebrow. Pussy, for those of you who don’t know, is an energy drink. Its ‘brain-child’ Jonnie Shearer came up with the name ‘long before the product did’. Right. He has cited Richard Branson and his Virgin brand as key inspiration. You can see what he did there.. took a tongue-in-cheek word and pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable. Richard Branson is actually firmly on board now (literally) and helps with the branding side of things. Its a great marketing fairytale story, of a grubby little idea hitting the big leagues hard.
The only problem is that it is insulting and crass (to me – woman). I envision a bunch of blokes hanging out, sniggering about “drinking pussy” and such like. Its so crude it hurts. Pussy, Virgin.. where are the emasculating brands? Perhaps a shoe brand called Dick might find leverage somewhere.
I’ve read some interesting things about testosterone levels decreasing in men over the last few decades* and wonder if these sort of ideas are demonstrable flails at the waning of manliness. Perhaps. But what I can tell you from a female perspective, is that a drink called Pussy does not empower women. For Jonnie Shearer to come up with the association with Virgin as being the only reason why he chose the name is is weak. Its one of those throwback ideas, not good on paper, but that actually MADE IT ON PAPER. What! What’s the reasoning behind choosing a word derogatory to the female sex for a product mostly targeted and consumed by the male gender? I find it disrespectful and setting a bad example to the kids. I don’t want to hear some kid on the bus boasting about how tasty Pussy is. And what the hell is a parent going to answer to their child’s question “what’s a pussy?” — “well dear, it is a derogatory term for a vagina, that can also be used to describe someone as weak or pathetic”. Fantastic. Thank-you Jonnie Shearer, I hope your kids are proud of their old Dad.
Go on son
*Here’s something to whet your whistle..
As a supermarket consumer on the lower-half of the professional income food chain, I do tend to purchase the kind of goods in-store familiarly known by terms such as ‘value’ or ‘basics’ (I stay away from chicken though: those breasts may look plump, but really they are pumped full of water. Yeuch). Believe me, most of the goods are as decent as the branded items. If you didn’t know this already, then you clearly need a few lessons in branding and the power of this industry*.
Last week however, I was browsing in my local Tesco Metro for their Value yoghurt and the familiar white pack with blue stripes and details had vanished. In its stead was an attractive monochrome pack with rows of little illustrations relating to yoghurt, its milky origins and the activity of eating it.
Surely you must have seen this style campaigned by now – it is on billboards, tv ads and digital marketings everywhere. At that moment however, I was unfamiliar with this packaging and looked around to compare my yoghurt with the other available brands. I realised that this truly was the cheapest and appeared to be of the original ‘Value’ price. I was suspicious though; working in branding I know that traditionally supermarkets don’t like to spend any money on their budget ranges. Waitrose being the trendsetter last year, however, with their watercolour illustrations on-pack.
So are we witnessing a new trend? Supermarkets willing to spend more on their packaging (but believe me, less on their design agencies…), perhaps in the time of this double-dip recession to make consumers feel less self-conscious about their basic, bland and budget buys. Tesco’s guerilla marketing campaign has certainly worked to solidify in my mind that the Everyday Value range is their budget line, but the packaging is far more pleasing. After all, I am a consumer myself and can be swayed by aesthetics. Next time you’re in Tesco, take a look at the Everyday Value packaging. Each product has a different, charming story. I will be keeping an eye on the prices though… I’m still suspicious…
*I will be happy to give those uneducated a run-down..
As a resident of Battersea I travel through Nine Elms everyday. Now, for those of you that don’t know, this is the site of the infamous Battersea Power Station – a majestic, iconic building that has been lying derelict for many years. The immediate area is a wasteland – the space of which is hard to come by so near to central London – but in turn this means lots and lots of sky space for advertising boards. Big boards. I have heard them referred to as the ‘big 5’ or 7 or something… They are clustered around the strip just in front of the power station and agencies make the most of the space with some punchy campaigns. Recently, Wieden + Kennedy for Lurpak – the ‘food rainbow’ arched up and over the board itself.
Most notably, the controversial Reebok ‘Reetone’ campaign which featured the bodacious body of Kelly Brook (whose brazen curves I had to endure for weeks in the summer of 2010…). This campaign was reported to have actually caused road accidents, by lascivious male drivers hanging out of their windows to catch a glimp of Brook’s 40-foot lady humps. The Daily Mail reported on this and oh look! There she is, with the power station looming in the background…
So we know exactly where those boards were. Its lucky I didn’t get mown down on my bicycle by some salivating white van man..
So, what instigated this observation? Currently the boards are sporting another driving hazard campaign for a car brand that sports long sentences, with some key consonants removed. SOMWHT LKE THS. Now, being a passenger yesterday, I could give these messages some decryption, but if a driver starts wrapping his brains (literally) around these boards, who knows what could happen.
I enjoy the innovative use of space, but perhaps they should call it ‘Rear-Ending Lane’ or something.