Perfect partnerships

A match made in heaven or a pairing that should never have happened. Advertising by association, sponsorship, endorsement, call it what you will, can be hugely rewarding or indeed a complete mismatch in terms of bonding two things that just don’t stick.


Now these two in the picture are brothers, they are very close, I know that because I know them, they are however completely different. They both have different goals and want to do different things in life. As much as they are both paddling they are going in opposite directions. We must never assume that simply because we are bound in blood, we are a perfect pair. That which unites us can sometimes divide us, this is no more true in advertising partnerships.

Take Jeremy Clarkson (well someone should) and his endorsement of Amazon Prime. I am afraid I belong in the camp that completely switches off when I see or hear this man. I find him opinionated, obnoxious, bigoted, sexist, racist, and downright bloody infuriating among other things. So when his new stream of ads are shown on the TV promoting Amazon Fire, so uninterested in him am I that I thought it was actually a Sky promotion until I googled it this morning, I simply switch off or switch over. I know there are supporters of this man but I like many others simply cannot bear to watch him. Sorry Amazon but now I will forever think of Clarkson when I think of you and that leaves me cold.

So it’s important to think about partnering with brands as you will be alienating some of the people some of the time, it’s a fine line and one that has to be walked carefully and responsibly. I know this to my own downfall. Many years ago I was running a recruitment business, this was back in the late 70’s early 80’s. One of the most successful parts of my business was my bank of temporary workers namely catering and industrial staff that I hired out on an hourly basis to businesses some of them blue chip.

I remember one day agreeing to promote an animal welfare charity and put some posters up in my main office condemning animal testing, in particular the testing of drugs on rabbits and dogs. The posters were a bit ‘in your face’ but these were different times, we were all waving our own flags  and let’s face it we were all entitled to have an opinion. That was until I got a surprise visit from a client that took over 30 catering staff from my bank on a weekly basis to work in their staff canteen. The client was ‘The Welcome Foundation’…….penny dropped yet??  Yes indeed, The Welcome Foundation, one of the worlds largest pharmaceutical companies and of course they had animal testing sites and of course I immediately lost the contract. Was I a dumb ass or what? I learned quickly that day that you can have an opinion but sometimes in business it’s better to keep your mouth shut or at least keep it shut until you can afford to have an opinion. More importantly you have to think about who you partner your ideals with.

Now the other evening I was surfing on the sofa, that’s channel hopping for the uneducated. I came across a soap that I was weaned off, no actually, warned off by my partner because the storylines were so negative and preposterous. OK, I’ll tell you, it was Emmerdale…….. and yes……….. OK I watched some of it and wow, it’s even worse than it used to be. There was a guy attempting suicide in his car, a woman drugging her husband to keep him bed bound in order to prevent him from leaving her for the local farmer whose daughter had just died from a drugs overdose, a woman having an abortion because she had become pregnant by the village car mechanic who incidentally had also fathered two other illegitimate children in the village, there was an adulterous village veterinary surgeon whose wife was now shacked up with the husband of the woman that he had been having an affair with…….keep up…….. there was a dog kidnapping scam, alcoholism, sexism, racism… I mean this is the kind of stuff that should be aired after the watershed, in fact probably not aired at all. Yet here it was at 7pm and it’s on every evening at 7pm, it doesn’t shock me to be honest, I mean this is British TV at it’s worst and most of what is aired these days is complete crap.

What really got me though was the sponsors of the programme with the proud and often repeated line ‘Emmerdale sponsored by McCain’ best known for their range of frozen foods and in particular their chips….. As if the promotion of unhealthy food, sponsoring a negative soap at 7pm wasn’t bad enough, the supporting ads shown before, in between and at the end of Emmerdale, depict family meals with kids. Most of these families, with the same surnames as the characters in the soap are shown seated on sofas dining with plates on their laps, stuffing their faces with chips, with their kids, yes their bloody kids, all commenting on the Emmerdale plot.

So what do we have here, well we have a dreadful soap with extremely upsetting story lines (if you have been affected by this storyline please ring the Samaritans, yes they do announce that regularly at the end of many episodes apparently) sponsored by unhealthy food, eaten by children on sofas who are encouraged to watch crap TV by their seemingly ignorant parents. For me this is sponsorship, or associated advertising very badly ‘paired’. I find the whole thing tasteless and inappropriate and find myself questioning the morals of McCain rather than thinking oooooh!!!! I must add frozen chips to my shopping list.

So whilst sponsorship advertising is a huge business and of course creates massive revenue, there needs to be some consideration for the pairing of brand and endorser. You will never please everyone that’s obvious, but come on, a little bit of thought can go a very long way.

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