AGENDA: Marketers could learn a good deal from the papers

In Evelyn Waugh’s hilarious novel, Scoop, journalism is wonderfully satirised, starting with the book’s premise - a naturalist called ’Boot’ is hired as a foreign correspondent by The Daily Beast. He is utterly unqualified, but has been mistaken for another Boot who is.

In Evelyn Waugh’s hilarious novel, Scoop, journalism is wonderfully

satirised, starting with the book’s premise - a naturalist called ’Boot’

is hired as a foreign correspondent by The Daily Beast. He is utterly

unqualified, but has been mistaken for another Boot who is.



I have seen things not much less ludicrous. One old acquaintance who

enjoyed a brief reign in the senior echelons of The Daily Mirror would

have made a perfect press megalomaniac had he held on to his job long

enough. One day when stalking the corridors he saw someone who reported

to him and asked, ’Have you got your passport?’ Upon being told ’No’, he

said, ’Never be without your passport. Go home and get it. Then take the

next plane to Rome and await my instructions’.



The dutiful young man did so - then spent a week waiting for

instructions that never came.



Being rude about newspapers is a little unfair when you look at some of

the nonsense that goes on in our own industry. Did you know, for

instance, that at Pepsi-Cola somebody holds the title ’head of

flavours’?



The fictional proprietor in Scoop, Lord Copper, was an amalgam of

Northcliffe and Beaverbrook, the great press lords of that era.

Northcliffe went mad, and I am surprised more people in the newspaper

industry don’t do the same. A good insight into Beaverbrook’s approach

was that he insisted on being referred to as the Chief Reader.



He knew a good proprietor should be a sort of surrogate and understand

what his readers wanted. This is the essence of marketing. He knew also

the importance of attention to detail. One of his rules (which a lot of

newspaper people appear to have forgotten) was always give the age of

whoever you are writing about, as people love to know how old other

people are. It is one of the first things one asks somebody else, unless

they are a woman, in which case you have to guess, the subject being of

such delicacy and importance.



It is the job of a good marketer to pay attention to such details,

too.



One little gripe I have is to do with something a little like the matter

of age: running pictures without captions. If a picture is interesting,

we immediately wonder what it is all about. What is that building? Where

is that beach? How much does that car cost? What is that person

doing?



Apart from anything else, readership studies show that captions

generally attract more readers than any part of an advertisement except

the headline. This is not surprising. Quite apart from the matter of

natural curiosity, we learn to read as children by looking at pictures

with captions under them.



Does this strike you as a trifling thing unworthy of your strategic

brain?



Perhaps. But consider this: would you like more people to read your

ads?



This is one way to do so. And incidentally, it helps in evaluating

pictures. If a picture merits no caption, it can hardly be worth running

at all. Get another.



Drayton Bird runs the Drayton Bird Partnership.



Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage