Friday 18 February 2011

Red Stripe; a missed opportunity

I hear Red Stripe is looking for an ad agency.

We pitched for the account many years ago, when most new beers were first tested in London.

The client, an ex West Indian test cricketer did not want any reference to the brands Caribbean origins.
This proved to be a difficult creative hurdle and after several attempts it was decided to ignore that aspect of the brief.

The modest advertising budget and the need to launch only in London restricted media choice to Posters and Radio.
The radio script went something like this:

Background sounds of an orchestra tuning up for a recital of the William Tell overture

John Cleese sound alike: "Fancy a can of Red Stripe, Julian?"

"What is it Charles, a new kind of lager?"

"Yes Julian, it's rather special" then..."Pass a few to Wood wind and Brass".

"Cheers". "Cheers" to the sound of pulled beer can tags.

The background music now changes from the classic form to something with a reggae beat.

"I say Charles" says Julian, "This red stripe tastes kind of...funky."

The ad ends with the orchestra playing the reggae version enthusiastically.

If the client was nervous at this stage, he nearly collapsed when he saw the poster. I had it cleared with the authorities too.

I remain convinced that had he the confidence to approve this radical approach, the brand would have been successful.

And we would have been famous.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Chinese pilgrimage to Cambridge

The Chinese, now richer and freer than before have become great tourists.

France is a favourite destination. The rich Chinese have developed a taste for wine, adore the south of France,largely because of Peter Mayle's "Life in Provence" and because a television series "Dream links " was shot in the Midi.

Britain is not as popular.According to our Prime Minister, we lanquish in 22nd place and this is not likely to change given that our bureaucrats make it so difficult to get a tourist visa. An eighty year old man from India was refused a visa because he might choose to marry a UK citizen and stay here. The fact that he was already married with a family was not considered relevant.

One place sought out by Chinese tourists is Cambridge. It's history, ancient buildings and tranquil river Cam are seen as attractive of course. However it's real draw was that Xu Zhimso studied there ninety years ago and penned a poem so;

"Quietly now I leave the Cam,

As quietly as I came.

Gently wave farewell the clouded

Western sky aflame....

There the golden willow stands

a bride of sunset's glow.

How its dancing ripples glint

and stir my heart below"

The willow still stands in the grounds of Kings college and is the base for pilgrims. Next to it is a marble boulder on which this poem is inscribed

Xu died young but his poems created great prestige for Cambridge. Perhaps his shade still rests under this ancient willow and watches todays young as they punt on the Cam.