Despite working in retail for a couple of decades, I have yet to master the art of small talk: as such I simply cannot be arsed chatting about the weather. If you’ve been in my establishment and have tried to engage me with this as a conversational gambit, then I apologise if I have shot you down with a hard stare. Besides, despite the weather being particularly noteworthy lately, this part of the country has got away relatively unscathed and it seems bad form to complain about a bit of rain when people’s lives and livelihoods are being devastated South of the border.
Still, it has been a dreich winter and whilst wrangling my children to school through the constant rain, I found myself, on more than one occasion utterly transfixed by a billboard that shined like a beacon amongst the industrial estates of Bonnington. It was a simple, colourful, image and may have been the most brutally effective piece of beer advertising I have ever seen.
A young, well dressed young woman stares out at the public, her hair tucked beneath a large sun hat, her gaze unremitting. She is framed by a beneath a beautiful azure blue sky, which meets a perfect indigo Mediterranean. There are no extraneous details, no fuss: Even the brand of cheap, industrial lager she is flogging is unobtrusive (though with precious little else to distract you-you certainly notice it)
What’s interesting about the image is how it deftly avoids the pitfalls associated with the genre: The model is modestly (if stylishly) dressed, she may have the ghostly, unreal sheen of photoshop, but she’s not an unholy bundle of cleavage and legs. The beer isn’t promising you sex: neither is it promising fame, cool, or the respect of your peers.
Instead it’s associating itself with a very simple fantasy: by drinking this beer you can transport yourself to somewhere where the weather is a little less shite. This is a very effective message in the middle of the Scottish winter, one that other beer macrocorps are keen to exploit. Whether its Aussie brands sending bright young dims abseiling in China (for some reason) or people supping “Spanish” pisswater while dangling off the side of luxury yachts in cinema ads.
It’s a great message that manages to hit home to both sexes, all ages & demographics equally and without offense.
“Drink this beer and come with us. to somewhere better, somewhere sunnier, somewhere perfect”
It’s transparently patronising bollocks, but sometimes even I could fall for it